The Traffic Safety Section is a large part of the Special Operations Unit. The section is comprised of one captain, two sergeants, seven officers, and one parking control officer. The unit is responsible for a variety of duties encompassing traffic enforcement, motor vehicle crash investigation, education on traffic matters, and special event planning.
Officers and sergeants in the Traffic Safety Section work 9-hour shifts, Monday through Friday, with various assignments covering 6am to 7pm. A dedicated DWI enforcement officer works 5pm to 3am Wednesday through Saturday. The Unit also has a traffic investigator who works 7am-4pm during the regular work week. The investigator conducts follow-up investigations on hit-and-run crashes, and more serious traffic related offenses. The unit has one parking control officer working business hours during the regular work week.
The primary goal of the Traffic Safety Section is to reduce the number of motor vehicle crashes occurring in the city. To accomplish this goal Traffic Safety officers carry out a number of different responsibilities. Traffic enforcement is the number one tool used to lower crash rates. Studies have shown increased enforcement of traffic laws has a direct impact on lowering crash numbers. Officers focus enforcement activities in high crash areas, along with other areas of the city which have been identified as having traffic related problems, such as excessive speed. Officers are encouraged to educate motorists on proper and safe driving methods during enforcement contacts.
Officers in the Traffic Safety Section are also trained in motor vehicle crash investigation. Officers receive nearly a month of specialized training in investigating motor vehicle collisions, along with numerous hours of on-going training to improve their skills. This training and experience allows Traffic Safety officers to accurately investigate and reconstruct traffic crashes to determine causes and identify violations. Data from motor vehicle crashes in the city assist the unit in identifying problem areas needing further attention to decrease crash occurrences.
Members of the Traffic Safety Section work closely with other agencies, such as MoDOT, the City traffic engineer, and the city Street Department to recognize and correct deficiencies in road systems in an effort to reduce future traffic crashes. If you are involved in an accident and need a copy of the crash report, please contact the Records Unit at 816.969.1715.
The Traffic Safety Section is also responsible for planning police involvement in special events around the city. The City of Lee’s Summit is a popular destination throughout the year for numerous 5K/10K runs, parades and special events such as Downtown Days and Oktoberfest. The Traffic Safety Section is responsible for assisting in the planning of these events, blocking off roadways, and providing adequate police presence to ensure these events occur with the utmost safety to those involved and the motoring public.
Finally, officers in the Traffic Safety Section are committed to educating the public on the safest methods to use our roadways and highways. Traffic officers routinely answer citizen questions concerning traffic laws and safety, and participate in several formal educational events throughout the year. These events include the city’s equipment shows, school and community organization tours of the police department, and educational videos on the city’s television channel. In addition, Traffic officers participate in Operation Impact, a partnership with the Lee’s Summit R-7 school district to educate young drivers on the dangers and consequences of impaired driving.
Seat Belts and Safe Driving Saves Lives
The Traffic Safety Section would like to share some vital statistics. As of 2017 the national rate for seat belt use was 89.7%. Missourians have made strong improvements in wearing their seatbelts, but still fall slightly behind the national average with only 84% buckling up. Seat belt usage is a critical factor for injuries and fatalities during motor vehicle crashes. In 2017, 64% of Missouri motorists sustaining fatal injuries in a crash were not using seat belts. In contrast, 97.5% of Missouri motorists who wore seatbelts during a crash were uninjured.
Drivers 21 years of age and younger are involved in a disproportionate amount of crashes. In 2011 this group of motorists was involved in nearly 25% of all crashes. Dangerous driving behaviors like excessive speeding and distracted driving are significant factors in this age group’s crashes. A recent study by www.teendriversource.com found 33% of teens had recently texted or emailed while driving. Missouri law currently only prohibits drivers less than 21 years of age from texting and driving. Regardless of age, the Traffic Safety unit highly recommends drivers put their hand-held devices down while driving and only communicate through hand-free applications.
Older drivers aged 55 years and above were responsible for almost 33% of all crashes in 2011. These crashes can be the result of the driver’s diminishing vision and hearing, increased reaction times to sudden changes, and a decrease in overall awareness. Senior drivers are reminded to use extra caution, and scan your surroundings frequently to be aware of changing roadway conditions.
Motorcycles, tricycles, and scooters are becoming much more popular options for mobility. Since motorcycles and similar conveyances do not offer riders the same structural protections as cars and trucks, these riders are particularly susceptible to injuries and fatalities during crashes. Drivers in cars and trucks are reminded to be extra cautious to check the roadway and natural blind spots for motorcyclists before making lane changes, or other directional movements. Motorcyclists are reminded to use extra caution around other motor vehicles, recognizing the smaller profile your vehicle makes for other motorists.
The City of Lee’s Summit requires all motorized cycle riders to obtain a motorcycle operator’s license or endorsement, wear a DOT approved helmet, have proper lighting and reflectors, and have liability vehicle insurance before riding on the public roadways. Motorized cycles with gasoline engines larger than 50cc in size are required to be properly licensed through the State of Missouri.
Inclement Weather Driving Tips
When the weather turns colder there are several things to remember when driving:
- Warm up your vehicle before driving, and ensure all the windows, lights, and your license plates are cleared of frost or ice buildup before driving.
- If the pavement is wet or icy keep extra distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. In wet or icy conditions it is recommended to at least double the normal following distance.
- A 4-wheel drive or all-wheel drive vehicle can greatly improve traction on wet or snowy roadways, particularly when starting from a stop. However, these vehicles are still susceptible to losing control on slippery roadways if the driver does not avoid speeds too fast for the conditions, braking heavily, or making rapid lane changes. Safety precautions remain the same regardless of extra drive wheels.
- If your vehicle begins to slide on slippery roadways immediately let off of the gas pedal, but avoid heavy braking. If the rear of the vehicle is sliding to one side, steer your vehicle in the direction the rear of your vehicle is sliding, but avoid over steering which can cause even greater loss of control.
- Bridge surfaces freeze or ice over before roadways. Prepare for this by slowing before crossing bridges. Avoid braking while crossing bridges if possible.
- In case your vehicle breaks down, always be prepared with an emergency kit containing: jumper cables, flashlight, blanket, and water. Having a cell phone and charger are also recommended.
If you have traffic related questions you may contact Sgt. Aaron Evans, Sgt. Travis Burks or Captain Rod Schaeffer by calling or clicking on their e-mail addresses below:
Sgt. Aaron Evans (DWI Enforcement / Taxi Inspections) -- 816.969.1765
Sgt. Travis Burks (Special Events) -- 816.969.1701
Captain Rod Schaeffer -- 816.969.1703
Traffic Unit -- 816.969.1765