Kansas City metro law enforcement agencies crack down on aggressive driving as deaths soar

Deputy Cameron Macdonald’s black sunglasses glinted in the morning sun as he handed a man in a pickup truck a traffic citation, the flashing police lights reflecting off the man’s truck.

It was part of an multi-agency effort Friday to increase enforcement on aggressive driving in the Kansas City metro, as traffic fatalities have soared.

As part of the initiative, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office teamed up with Kansas City Police Department, all with one goal in mind — cracking down on aggressive driving.. In Clay County, those efforts included around 10 marked and unmarked police cars from both departments, as well as an officer undercover as a panhandler at a busy intersection. The officer stood at the intersection calling out violations over a radio.

Officers including Deputy Macdonald searched for aggressive driving behaviors such as speeding, reckless lane changes, driving too close to other vehicles and license plate violations, Macdonald said.

Last year in Kansas City, there were 102 traffic deaths, nearing the city record of 103 in 2020. The Clay County Sheriff’s office investigated just two traffic fatalities in 2023, according to an annual police report.

But so far this year in Kansas City alone, there have been 47 traffic fatalities, compared to 34 as of June 2023.

In around a three hour period on Friday, Macdonald handed out around three traffic citations and made one arrest. Others that he pulled over received warnings. The area for the Clay County operation, a bustling business area near NE Barry Road and Route 291, was chosen because of how often crashes occurred there, Macdonald said.

The operation comes soon after Kansas City leaders announced they have dedicated $4 million to the city’s Vision Zero initiative, which aims to make roads safer.

“Aggressive driving and excessive speed are dangerous for everyone and will not be tolerated on Clay County roadways,” A Facebook post by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office said.

In Missouri, convictions for careless driving can lead to sentences of up to six months in prison or a maximum fine of up to $1,000. In Kansas, careless drivers can face up to 90 days in prison or a fine of up to $500.

The Star’s Robert A. Cronkleton contributed to reporting.