Friday, January 31, 2014

Five for Friday with Lt. Josh Kellerman


Today’s Five- for- Friday feature is with Lt. Josh Kellerman of the Kansas Highway Patrol. Lt. Kellerman has been with the Patrol since 2003 and currently serves as Public Information Officer.  An all-time low for fatalities on Kansas roads was reached in 2013 so we thought that was a good reason to talk about driver behavior with an expert.
1. What do you think is the single-most significant factor contributing to the drop in fatalities in 2013?
I believe the strict enforcement efforts from our statewide law enforcement agencies and the continued dedication to traffic safety by KDOT has played a huge contributing factor in the drop in fatalities. Through programs such as Click It or Ticket, law enforcement is provided that extra ability to be more present on our great Kansas roadways, arguably the best in the entire nation.

2. Will we ever get to zero fatalities? 
Through enhancements in vehicle safety, strict enforcement of highway laws by our LEO’s, and the continued traffic safety efforts of KDOT, I will always believe that is a possibility.  I know the Kansas Highway Patrol and all law enforcement agencies will continue to work in partnership with KDOT to make this a reality.

3. How does working a fatal crash affect you as a first responder?
Effects of a fatal crash can be found immediately as you begin to piece together your investigation.  In many cases, these effects will stay with you your entire career.  While at a fatality scene, there is so much information to gather as well as protocols to follow to complete a thorough investigation.  While doing all of this, you must also comprehend the loss of life and the absolute respect the deceased and their family deserve.  You could speak with any trooper and he will tell you the hardest part of our job is notifying a family of a death.  We obviously receive training on notifications, but no training prepares you for the pure emotion of that notification.
4. How do you know when someone is driving distractedly?
These days there are so many different distractions that are present.  Whether it be the GPS, radio, telephone, eating, or drinking, they are present in all our daily lives.  In many cases, vehicles weave within their lane of traffic and many times leave the lane of traffic entirely.  Often times, drivers are so distracted they do not even see us beside or behind them even when our emergency equipment is activated. 

5. What’s the craziest excuse you’ve heard from someone trying to get out of a ticket? 
I stopped a young lady early in my career for driving 75 mph in a 45 mph zone.  Upon identifying myself, she stated that she was heading to the hospital to see her mother.  While speaking with her I could smell an extremely strong odor of alcohol coming from her.  She was subsequently arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol.  Her blood alcohol content was more than three times the legal limit.  She later advised that her mother was not in the hospital and that she thought I would just let her go if she cried and told me that story.  

Five for Friday is an ongoing series featuring notable transportation figures.  If there is someone you would like to see featured, please recommend him or her in the comment box below.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Throwback Thursday

In honor of yesterday being Kansas Day, today's throwback Thursday photos are from the state's Centennial.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wednesday's Words with Ike

Since today is Kansas Day, we are featuring the words of one of the state's most famous sons, President Dwight Eisenhower.   This is from a passage in Eisenhower's speech to Congress about the National Highway Program.  While the speech was given nearly 60 years ago, the message still rings true.

“Our unity as a nation is sustained by free communication of thought and by easy transportation of people and goods.  The ceaseless flow of information throughout the Republic is matched by individual and commercial movement over a vast system of interconnected highways crisscrossing the country and joining at our national borders with friendly neighbors to the north and south."

"Together, the united forces of our communication and transportation systems are dynamic elements in the very name we bear—United States.  Without them, we would be a mere alliance of many separate parts.”

President Dwight Eisenhower, 
February 22, 1955

Wednesday’s Words is a feature designed to recognize key quotes relevant to transportation.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Which part of Kansas has world famous sunsets?

The Flint Hills are one of the top places in the world to watch sunsets, according to recent article by Green Landscapes.  This is no surprise to us.  Sunsets are just part of the beautiful scenery in the Flint Hills, which is why a route through the region became a National Scenic Byway in 2005.  The 47-mile byway spans from Council Grove to Cassoday on K-177.  Below are few shots of the sunsets along the byway.

The Flint Hills Byway is not the only route in Kansas to offer beautiful scenery.  Click here to visit the Kansas Byways website and learn more about other scenic routes across the state.

Monday, January 27, 2014

What will be the next big thing to change transportation forever?

This year will be the “tipping point” for the Internet and technology, according to Yahoo’s Chief Executive, Marissa Mayer.  During last week’s World Economic Forum,  Mayer said fundamental things are happening that are changing the way people live and work in ways we wouldn’t have deemed possible a few years ago.   This got us to thinking about some emerging technologies that you might not expect to change transportation in the future, but have potential to do so.  Check them out.

3D Printing.  The ability to print, customized items quickly, or 3D printing, has the potential to “monumentally” change how goods are moved around the world, according the UPS.  How?  

“A proportion of goods which were previously produced in China or other Asia markets could be ‘near-sourced’ to North America and Europe,” according to an excerpt of the report published by smartplanet. “This would reduce shipping and air cargo volumes.”

Transportation implications: Eliminating the supply chain between businesses and manufactures would generate tremendous transportation cost savings for companies. And decreasing the amount of heavy trucks transporting freight on U.S. highways would help reduce maintenance costs.  But, it would also reduce revenues if there are fewer trucks paying motor fuel taxes—the main funding source for transportation infrastructure.  

Lending your car to strangers for cash.  More people are utilizing companies like RelayRides, Getaround and JustShareIt to earn some extra cash by lending their cars to strangers.  These companies create online social networks to connect people in need of a car with those nearby who aren’t using theirs.  These companies offer lower rates than rental car companies. 

Transportation implications:  Reducing the cost of renting a car could be enticing to some people who currently rely on public transit services to get to where they need to go and thus decrease transit ridership.  In the United States, there’s currently one car per 1.2 people.  Imagine if this trend reduced the amount of vehicles and we actually returned to the days when there were more licensed drivers than licensed vehicles.  This would have revenue implications as vehicle registration fees make up a significant portion of transportation funding—12 percent in Kansas.

Drone Delivery.  Amazon made headlines in December when it announced plans to build a fleet of drones that would be able to deliver goods to customers’ doors within thirty minutes of when they place their orders.

Transportation implications:  This has the potential to reduce the amount of trucks on highways and streets, which has pros and cons in terms of transportation policy.  The FAA is currently developing rules for the use of commercial drones—as there are many safety related issues with this that would have to be addressed before it could come to fruition.  In addition to safety concerns, policy makers will need to think about privacy concerns of citizens and the legality of flying drones over private property.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Five for Friday with the Kansas Transportation Liaison

Talking KDOT & KTA partnership, 2014 Legislative Session

Today’s Five- for- Friday feature is with Tara Mays, who is the Kansas Transportation Liaison.  Mays is charged with the implementation of the KDOT and Kansas Turnpike Authority (KTA) partnership and serves as KDOT’s Acting Chief of Governmental Affairs.  With the Kansas Legislature now in full swing, we wanted to take a few minutes to tell you more about the partnership and what is coming up this session.

1.       What is the Kansas transportation agenda for this legislative session?
“Our agenda is very light for the coming legislative session.  We will mostly be giving informational presentations to legislators, updating them on our progress.  We are creating a Freight Advisory Committee and a Funding Advisory Committee, which we will spend a lot of time discussing with legislators.”

 2.       What exactly will the Freight and Funding advisory committees do?
“These committees will be composed of members from both the public and private sector who deal with issues related to transportation.  The committees will offer ideas and give recommendations for how transportation could be improved in the future.”

3.       In July, House Bill 2334 went into effect, which formalizes the partnership between KDOT and KTA. What was the reasoning behind this?  And would you call it a partnership or a merger?
“It’s a partnership, not a merger.  As specifically stated in the legislation, both entities will remain separate.  However, the purpose of this partnership is to help improve transportation as a whole by encouraging more collaboration among the agencies.  While both agencies did work together in the past on some projects, this formalized partnership is seen as a way to improve efficiencies and reduce costs.

4.       There are some concerns about how this partnership might negatively impact services.  How would you say the partnership is going and have any saving been identified?
“The partnership is going very well. I’m pleased to announce that we’ve identified more than $17 million worth of estimated savings.  These savings will allow us to make additional improvements and to help keep costs down for travelers.   I want to ensure people that the purpose of this partnership is to improve services and not to reduce them.  We are tracking very closely the system as it stands at the start of the partnership and beyond to ensure that there is no change in the services that those traveling in Kansas have come to expect.”

5.       Funding is always a concern for agencies. What is the current status of transportation revenues?
"At the state level, we are in the fourth year of the 10-year state transportation program, T-WORKS, which has us in pretty good shape.  Of course, we will always have to be aware of any potential legislative changes that might impact our revenues for T-WORKS.  At the federal level, Congress will be charged with reauthorizing the federal transportation program this year."

Five for Friday is an ongoing series featuring notable transportation figures.  If there is someone you would like to see featured, please recommend him or her in the comment box below.