Law enforcement agencies are trying to bring a stop to a growing epidemic in Kansas.

According to reports, in 2016, 44 children ages 0-19 lost their lives due to car crashes in the state.

Among those, almost half were children not wearing their seat belts.

"In the health field, they talk about making sure children have received their immunizations to prevent deadly diseases," said Ford County Sheriff Bill Carr in a press release. "But what many parents don’t think about is that wearing a seatbelt properly is the best prevention of serious injury or death in a vehicle."

To bring attention to the crisis, local law enforcement agencies will begin seatbelt enforcement from Oct. 30 through Nov. 3.

According to the 2017 Kansas observational seatbelt survey, children are much more likely to be buckled up if the driver is wearing their seatbelt.

If the driver is buckled, about 98 percent of the children are restrained. If the driver is not buckled, only about 29 percent of the observed children were buckled.

During the week-long enforcement, law enforcement will be extra-vigilant when patrolling around schools.

"For more than 20 years, officers have educated and warned drivers and passengers regarding the importance of using seatbelt's while in their vehicle," Carr said. "There should be no surprises when it comes to this enforcement effort.

"Officers will issue citations to anyone who does not obey Kansas law.

"Even one child’s death is unacceptable. Please slow down, especially in school zones, eliminate the distractions and always buckle up."

Visit www.ktsro.org for the latest data and to see more about Kansas safety belt laws.

To contact the writer email vmarshall@dodgeglobe.com