The Most Fatal Driving Offenses in Kansas

Driving on Kansas roads and highways entails following traffic laws and driving safely to protect yourself and others. However, some motorists fail to adhere to laws intended to preserve life and prevent crashes. Certain driving violations significantly raise the risk of severe or fatal collisions in Kansas. This article examines the most dangerous driving offenses leading to traffic fatalities in the state.

Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs

Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is among the top factors in traffic deaths in Kansas and nationwide. In 2019, there were over 5,500 DUI arrests in Kansas, and 22% of all fatal crashes in the state involved an impaired driver.

Kansas has a legal limit of .08% blood alcohol content (BAC) for adult drivers over 21. For commercial drivers and underage motorists, the limit is lower – .04% BAC for commercial vehicle drivers and zero tolerance for those under 21. Drivers impaired by prescription medications, illegal drugs, or inhaled substances also face DUI charges in Kansas.

The consequences of a DUI conviction are severe. Fines reach $1,000 or more, and jail sentences go up to 6 months for a first offense. Drivers also face license suspension, ignition interlock device installation, and mandatory drug and alcohol treatment. Repeat DUI offenders see harsher penalties including felony charges, multi-year jail terms, and license revocation.

Reckless Driving

Reckless driving is a major contributing factor in fatal crashes in Kansas. According to state law, reckless driving involves operating a vehicle with a willful or wanton disregard for safety. Dangerous maneuvers like speeding, tailgating, erratic lane changes, racing, and aggressive driving fall under the definition of reckless driving.

In 2019, reckless driving contributed to 40 fatalities on Kansas roads. Charges for reckless driving include fines up to $500 and jail time up to 90 days, as well as driver’s license suspension. Engaging in reckless behaviors behind the wheel needlessly endangers lives.


Driving over posted speed limits or too fast for conditions claims many lives on Kansas roadways each year. Excess speed reduces a driver’s ability to navigate curves safely or avoid objects in the roadway. Speeding also extends the distance required to stop a vehicle to avoid a collision.

In 2019, there were over 5773 speeding-related crashes in Kansas, resulting in 93 deaths. Under Kansas law, fines for speeding depend on how much over the limit a driver travels. For example, 1-10 mph over the limit warrants a $45 fine, while 25+ mph over brings a $105 fine and possible license suspension. Drivers exceeding the limit by 100+ mph may face reckless driving charges. Slowing down prevents fatal speed-related crashes.

Distracted Driving

Driver distraction is a growing problem in Kansas and across the nation. Distracted driving occurs when motorists divert attention from driving to focus on another activity instead. Texting, dialing a phone, eating, interacting with passengers, or manipulating GPS and music devices all provide dangerous distractions.

In 2017, distraction contributed to over 2,200 crashes and 11 fatalities in Kansas. State law bans all cell phone use by novice teen drivers and texting for all motorists. Fines start at $60 for a first texting offense, along with possible license suspension. Avoiding distractions is vital for secure driving and saving lives on Kansas roadways.

Drowsy Driving

Drowsy driving is an overlooked but hazardous behavior on Kansas highways. Fatigued drivers who have not slept sufficiently have slowed reaction times, reduced awareness, and impaired judgment. These effects of drowsiness can severely compromise roadway safety.

Studies show drowsy driving causes over 900 crashes per year in Kansas, accounting for more than $240 million in costs. Kansas has no specific law against sleepy driving, but drowsy drivers may be charged with reckless driving if they drive dangerously while fatigued. Being aware of warning signs like yawning or difficulty focusing and stopping to rest when tired can prevent these preventable driving deaths.

Failure to Yield Right of Way

Failing to yield the right of way to other vehicles plays a role in many serious and fatal crashes annually in Kansas. Drivers must properly yield at intersections, when turning, changing lanes, entering traffic, passing other vehicles, and more.

Fines for failure to yield offenses are up to $75. Exercising patience and courtesy behind the wheel by properly yielding prevents dangerous collisions.

Driving without a Valid License

Finally, driving without a valid driver’s license contributes to deadly Kansas crashes every year. Unlicensed drivers have not proven the required knowledge and competency to operate vehicles safely on public roads. In 2019, around 4% of crashes involving teenagers in Kansas involved an unlicensed driver.

In Kansas, fines start at $100 for a first offense of driving without a license. Subsequent violations can lead to vehicle impoundment. The state also suspends licenses of drivers caught driving while suspended. Ensuring drivers pass testing and obtain licenses helps enforce training needed to save lives on Kansas highways.

Teen Drivers

Another high-risk group of drivers in Kansas is teens. Drivers aged 15-20 account for around 7% of the state’s licensed drivers but over 13% of fatal crashes. Immaturity, inexperience, and tendencies to speed, drive distracted, or operate under the influence make teen drivers more likely to be involved in severe collisions.

Kansas has a graduated licensing system to incrementally introduce driving privileges to teens as they gain skills. The state also restricts late night driving and passengers for novice teen drivers to limit dangerous conditions. Parents can protect teen drivers by setting limits, leading by example, and ensuring sufficient practice.

Contact a Kansas Attorney Today

As this article shows, certain high-risk driving behaviors like DUI, speeding, and distractions result in disproportionate traffic deaths on Kansas roads. Adhering to safe driving laws and practicing protective habits like sobriety, reasonable speeds, and staying focused saves lives.

If you or a loved one faces charges for a driving offense in Kansas, immediately contact the experienced DUI and traffic law attorneys at Monge & Associates. We have 32 offices across 19 states, including Kansas, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania.

Call today on (888) 477-0597 for a free consultation.