If you’ve ever been passed by some moron going 100 mph on Kellogg and thought to yourself, “I really hope they bust that guy good,” then the Kansas Department of Transportation has a proposed law for you.
KDOT went before a House committee in Topeka last week pushing for a bill to allow the department to establish “safety corridors,” that would double traffic fines on particularly dangerous stretches of highway around the state.
The higher fines – and plenty of signs warning of enhanced penalties for speeding and other moving violations – would change behavior, said Mike Stringer, a KDOT engineer who testified in favor of the bill to the House Transportation Committee last week.
“That will encourage drivers to pay attention, slow down and drive safely through the area,” he said. “Safety corridors in other states have been successful in reducing fatalities, serious injuries and alcohol-related crashes.
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In addition to higher fines, the bill would also mean:
Speeding more than 5 mph over the posted limit in a corridor would go on a driver’s license and insurance record, possibly leading to higher insurance rates. Ordinarily, speeding violations under 10 mph aren’t reported.
Tickets issued in safety corridors would be ineligible for diversion, the program in which drivers can get a ticket dismissed if they pay a fee and keep a clean record for a year.
KDOT has tried to get a safety corridor bill twice before, in 2009 and 2012, Stringer said.
It passed the Senate in 2102 but foundered in the House.
It’s come up again as a recommendation from a study group that’s looked at updated traffic and accident statistics, Stringer said.
Under House Bill 2194, KDOT would be empowered to decide where to establish safety corridors.
“Criteria used to designate safety corridors would include accident rate, number of collisions and traffic volume,” Scott Wells, senior assistant revisor of statutes, told the committee.
“You can design a road with all the safety you want,” he said. But you'll still have a lot of accidents if people “don’t drive at a safe speed and cut each other off.”
KDOT would be allowed to seek grants to pay for operating the corridors, but proceeds from the enhanced fines would go to a safety corridor fund until the cost of additional signage was paid off, he said.