Friday, September 30, 2016

Crashes are NOT accidents

By Chris Bortz  

Annually, about 60,000 crashes occur in Kansas. This equates to more than 150 crashes each day in the state. Four of the top five contributing circumstances listed on the crash report are driver-related behaviors. The contributing circumstances surrounding a crash are typically: speeding, too fast for conditions, failure to yield at a stop sign or stop light, following too closely, texting and/or other distraction.  All these factors are 100 percent preventable. The decisions that every driver makes not only impact themselves and their passengers, but everyone else on the road.
Using the word ‘crash’ instead of accident more accurately identifies the event - it doesn’t give the perception that no one was at fault.  The word ‘accident’ implies no one was at fault or that the event couldn’t have been prevented. That is a pretty hard pill to swallow if you were the victim in a crash and the other driver was going too fast for conditions and/or was distracted. 
You may have noticed that I didn’t include the circumstance of ‘impaired or drunk’ in the paragraph above. Choosing to drive impaired is a horrible, conscious decision and the ramifications of this decision lead to around 100 deaths, 1,300 injuries and 2,300 crashes in this state every year. In Kansas, You Drink, You Drive, You Lose.
I don’t believe that people get behind the wheel and say, “I think I will injure or kill someone in a car crash today.” Just because it was not intentional, doesn’t mean it couldn’t have been prevented.  Most drivers rate themselves as great drivers and will say the problem is the other driver(s). However, driving is a privilege, not a right. You are sharing the road with all drivers and it is important for you to drive as if your life depends on it. Oh wait, it just might.
On the Drive to Zero fatalities, you are in the driver’s seat.
Chris Bortz is the Traffic Safety Manager at KDOT

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Didn't have a scratch on him

My name is Steven Moody and I was a paramedic in Salina for 28 years and am currently the Fire Chief in El Dorado. The experience I’d like to share happened during my early years in Salina. I was called to a one-vehicle crash involving a rural mail carrier who I’ll refer to as Bob (not his real name). I rode with him in the ambulance and he conveyed to me how the crash occurred before he lost consciousness. And I’d like to share Bob’s story and mine … 

Houses in rural central Kansas are sometimes far and in between. So, it gave Bob the chance to do a bit of mail sorting while driving from one house to the next.

And that was what Bob was doing this particular day. 

Like many Kansas roads, this one was loose sand and gravel. And, the terrain was as flat as a pancake – one could see as far as one’s sight would allow. 

Bob was sorting his mail as he drove along the desolate road. No problem, or so he thought.  But, in the blink of an eye the right front tire drifted into the loose gravel.  The car was immediately pulled towards the ditch.

In response Bob quickly turned the steering wheel to the left in an effort to bring the car back from the ditch. Regrettably, when Bob did this instead of pulling the car back onto the roadway it tilted the car. 

And it didn’t stop there. The car kept tilting until it rolled completely onto its top. 

Another unfortunate thing was Bob’s lack of seat belt usage. As the car rolled onto its top, Bob came out of his seat and slammed his head forward when it struck the inside of the rooftop.

As the medic in charge, I walked up to the side of the vehicle and asked Bob if he was hurt. Bob’s response back was, “I can’t feel anything.” 

Bob didn’t have a scratch on him, but his injury was serious. He had broken his neck.  Bob was taken to the hospital, but sadly he did not survive his injury. 

Bob had violated two driving operator rules – he had been inattentive and he failed to use his seat belt.

Learn the lessons from Bob. You can be killed with just the right mechanism of injury.  Follow all the safety rules knowing your life could depend upon it.   


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

We should be making memories

By Sheri Baker-Bruster  

December 20, 2001.  I was 21 at the time. I was a full-time college student, worked part time, lived with my parents, and was planning a wedding for July. 
I have two brothers and an older half-sister and half-brother. My parents - Frank and Debbie - had just celebrated their 24th anniversary in November. My dad was 51 and was the wastewater Supervisor for the City of Wellington. He had worked there for almost 30 years.
I never thought for a moment that my life could be so drastically changed by someone else’s decision that I had no control over. We were on our way home about a mile north of Wellington when a car driving northbound crossed the center line and hit our car head-on.  The crash caused many traumatic injuries. I had several broken bones which left me in the hospital for eight weeks and required months of physical and occupational therapy. 
My dad fought for 32 hours after the crash, but in the end lost the battle and died from his injuries.  Christmas is supposed to be a time to spend with your family, not meeting with a funeral director and planning a funeral. I was not able to attend the funeral because I was in the hospital and did not fully understand what had happened or that my dad had died until six weeks after the wreck. 
The other driver that caused the wreck had been drinking at a local bar.  At the time of the wreck his BAC was .30 and he died at the scene when he was ejected from his vehicle. The car he was driving was torn into three pieces. 
I have had numerous surgeries and will have to have more. I did get married seven months after the wreck. Chris has been through all of this with me. Chris and I have two children: Ayden who is 9 and Gates who is 5, and they keep us busy. I talk about the wreck and my dad with Ayden and Gates. They should be making memories with my dad instead of me sharing memories of my dad with them.   
I would have never imagined that in a split second my life could be completely changed by a man who chose to drink and drive. This is something completely preventable.  
It has been 14 years and not a day goes by that I don’t think about my dad and the wreck. 
Sheri Baker-Bruster is a volunteer for the Kansas DUI Impact Center and was the Volunteer of the Year for 2016

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Couldn't stop in time

By Mallory Goeke 

“Mom, I was hit by a car!”
I will always remember June 4, 1999. I was 11 and riding my bike was my ticket to freedom. My hometown of Cimarron was small enough that I could bike wherever I wanted as long as I was home by dark.
I had been cruising down a large street on my way home from the pool. For a hyper kid like me, coasting downhill at top speed made me feel invincible. I made the decision to skip my normal route home in lieu of continuing my exhilarating ride. As I reached the bottom of the hill, I turned quickly into an empty parking lot, performed a few fun tricks and figure 8’s, then I zipped out to go up the large hill again.
I wasn’t invincible.
The next scene plays out in slow motion: I saw the red car headed for me, but it was too late. I froze. I had been going so fast out of the parking lot that I couldn’t stop in time. Neither could the driver behind the wheel.
I felt the sickening crunch of the fender hitting my bike tire which sent me flying into the air and onto the windshield. I can still see the terrified expressions of the boys who hit me. I wonder if they still remember mine?
I remember rolling off the windshield and landing on my knees. I was in shock. My face hurt and I remember feeling that my two front teeth had been chipped right down the center. My knees were scrapped up and I was shaking like an earthquake. I had just been hit by a car. How did that happen?
I can’t completely blame the driver who hit me, nor can I completely place all the blame on myself. The fact of the matter is anyone who is riding a bike should be doubly aware of their surroundings before zipping out of parking lots, driveways or intersecting streets.
At the same time, drivers need to constantly be on the lookout for bikers and pedestrians, especially children who dart out into the streets without looking. It can happen in an instant and lives can be forever changed or ended due to carelessness and distracted driving. Just because you are seen, doesn’t mean there is enough time to get out of the way or stop.
I was so lucky. I walked away with a scraped knee, a chipped tooth and a fear of driving in traffic that has stayed with me ever since that day, but I was alive. Not everyone lives to tell their story.
Mallory Goeke is a Communication Specialist in KDOT’s Office of Public Affairs

Monday, September 26, 2016

In the blink of an eye

Kendall Schoenekase, Miss Kansas
Photo credit - Kristy Belcher Photography
By Kendall Schoenekase 

     Two years ago, I was a victim in a car crash caused by texting and driving. I am not alone. Every year, over 4,000 teens are killed, and another 438,000 people are injured in crashes that are preventable. In an age where technology provides a variety of mobile devices, we are facing epidemic acts of negligence behind the wheel.
     The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has determined driving while texting is six times more dangerous than drunk driving. In fact, five seconds is the average time eyes are taken off the road when texting. At 55 miles per hour, it’s enough time to cover the length of a football field, virtually blindfolded, according to With 660,000 drivers manipulating electronic devices while behind the wheel at any given moment, the life of every individual on, or around our roads can be impacted in an instant.
     My first-hand experience was not a tragic one, rather, it was an eye-opening moment, proving to me that NO ONE is safe when a driver is texting. A crash can happen at ANY moment, to ANY person. Just to lay it all out on the table, I, too, used to give into the temptation of technology, using my phone while driving. But I had to learn the hard way, experiencing how in the blink of an eye my life could have been stripped away.
     I pledged that day to never pick up my phone while behind the wheel again. In addition, I made it a personal mission to educate others on the dangers of such actions so they don’t have to learn the hard way. Not only did I experience this first hand as a victim, I relive those moments frequently as a registered nurse, often providing medical care to others hospitalized due to texting and driving crashes.
     As a survivor, a driver and a compassionate nurse, I am taking action to change these statistics and save lives. I am committed to defeating the most dangerous distraction that drivers face today with my three-step action plan - Educate, Engage, Legislate: The Kansan’s Care Campaign. Through the Kansans Care Campaign and my three-step action plan, I will continue to reach thousands around the country.
     Too many people have been affected by texting and driving. It is crucial for people of all ages to understand the risks, dangers, and consequences of their actions in order to change attitudes and behaviors regarding texting while driving.
Kendall Schoenekase was named Miss Kansas 2016 on June 11

Friday, September 23, 2016

Don't Text #Just Drive

We are including the information below as one of our safety blogs - this important initiative just began and is focused on reducing texting and driving. We hope you join this vital safety effort as well as participate in this spirited competition between Kansas universities. A video news conference featuring state, business and university student leaders speaking on Don’t Text #Just Drive is available at

 Pledge contest focuses on no texting while driving
Kansas Commissioner of Insurance Ken Selzer, center, and other officials
speak at a news conference kicking off the Don't Text #Just Drive campaign.

Students and supporters of seven Kansas universities can advocate for friendly competition this fall while challenging themselves and others to stop texting and driving.

The Kansas Insurance Department, insurance companies and governmental sponsors have created the “Don’t Text #Just Drive” campaign to get university students and supporters to pledge to stop texting while driving.  “We think this is a great way to promote a worthy goal of saving lives,” said Ken Selzer, CPA, Kansas Commissioner of Insurance. “You pledge to not text and drive, you pick your school and you cast your vote. Alumni, supporters and students of these Kansas schools show their support for the campaign and participate in a friendly competition at the same time.”

Supporters of each participating university will be able to take the pledge two ways: Online or by text messaging. The number of pledges each school receives will be compared to its official fall 2016 enrollment to calculate a percentage. Results will be tabulated and the winner announced during university athletic contests this fall and winter.

Participating schools are - University of Kansas, Kansas State University, Wichita State University, Fort Hays State University, Pittsburg State University, Washburn University and Emporia State University.

Voting began this week and ends Nov. 22. Pledge votes can be cast by texting 50555 and choosing one of the school keywords: KU, Wildcat, Shocker, Tiger, Gorilla, Ichabod, or Hornet. Voters can also go online at More information about the campaign can be found at

Kendall Schoenekase, Miss Kansas 2016, is promoting the campaign as well. She has chosen “Stay Alive, Don’t Text and Drive” as her campaign issue during her reign as Miss Kansas. (Kendall is also participating in the safety blog series and will be featured next Monday, Sept. 26.)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

On the other end of the radio

By Nicole Ascher
     One calm night, while working in the Kansas Highway Patrol dispatch center, we received a call from OnStar advising of a crash that just occurred involving a semi and a van.  A young mother who was not wearing her seat belt was distracted by talking on her cell phone. 
     She went left of center, left the roadway, went across the median and struck a semi.  It took troopers 20 minutes to arrive and they advised of one confirmed fatality.  It took another 20 minutes for the troopers to give a tag and ask for dispatch to locate a driver’s license photo for identification purposes. 
     Just as we pulled up the photo, the victim’s mother called in and advised that her daughter’s husband called her, and told her he was on the phone with the victim when she screamed and the cell phone disconnected. Once the family heard about the accident on the interstate, the victim’s mother and young child insisted on responding to the scene, to make sure her daughter was okay. The dispatcher told the mother to take the child home and she would have a trooper respond to her house to let her know what happened. Troopers were busy working the scene so dispatch attempted to get a chaplain to go to the mother’s residence. 
     The mother called the Kansas Highway Patrol dispatch center multiple times and the husband called the local dispatch multiple times.  An hour later, troopers were able to identify the victim from the driver’s license photo and responded with the chaplain to notify her mother and husband.  We do our very best to calm our callers and let them know that help is on the way. The dispatcher thought of her mom and wanted to tell her over the phone. 
     Death is one of the hardest things to deal with and families deserve to be treated with respect, passion, and professional comfort. Our hope is to give a victim’s family the gift of having someone to hold on to, or to make a phone call for someone who can come to the home and provide emotional support. During times like this, dispatchers feel helpless. Without visual information from the scene, we are left to our own imagination in an attempt to figure out what happened. Our main focus is helping people.  We do this as a team and help our fellow dispatchers when they are busy. An incident like this will stick with the dispatchers for several days. 
     Dispatchers experience trauma indirectly and with a high level of distress during and following an incident like this. One of the hardest things about being a dispatcher is the lack of closure and not knowing what happens after calls are dispatched.  At times this is a thankless job, but at the end of the day…you know you did your best and it is worth it.
Nicole Ascher is a Communication Specialist Supervisor with the Kansas Highway Patrol

To read more stories about the importance of safety check out our Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day blog:

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Trauma in the corn fields

John LaGesse, a former BNSF conductor, shares this story told to him by a co-worker from a few years ago.

     On a bright, late-summer day, a local train was rolling down the tracks near Topeka, Kansas, in between two tall corn fields. This time of the year, the corn is very tall, perhaps 10 feet or more, so for a train crew it was like being in a tunnel where your vision is very limited.
     The train approached a farmer’s crossing – a private crossing that farmers use to get from one field to another. At private crossings, trains are not required to sound their whistles. The train was about 250 feet from the crossing, when suddenly a small pack of dogs runs across the track. This grabs the crew’s attention; something unusual is going on. Suddenly, a small girl on a tricycle appears pedaling across the tracks. Everyone in the cab gasps, but she is almost across the tracks when the rear wheel of the tricycle falls between the tracks and the planks and she is stuck.   
     Now, action in the cab explodes. The engineer places the train into emergency and blasts on his whistle. The brakeman runs out the front door of the cab onto the deck screaming at the girl to run. After a couple of seconds, she frees her tricycle and pedals off the tracks. The brakeman watches her pedal into the clear and then his head snaps to the left to see where she had come from. Now in slow motion, as his brain had sped up due to the adrenaline in his system, he sees a car sitting near the tracks with a woman at the wheel whose eyes were as big as saucers and she was obviously screaming.  But, more profoundly, next to her in the front seat is a child carrier with an infant in it and the infant’s mouth seemed huge as it was screaming as well, terrified by its mothers cries.
     The train finally slides to a stop, well past the crossing. There was no way they would have stopped in time. The brakeman sits down and is shaking so badly, he cannot light his cigarette. As a finale, the engineer walks out the back door of the engine onto the catwalk and vomits.
     No one was physically injured in this incident, but the trauma for all involved would last for a lifetime. This is why crossing safety is so important. Saving lives is just part of it –  preventing life-changing, horrible events is another.

To read more stories about the importance of safety check out our Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day blog:

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Cyclists will be on the losing end

By Don Snyder
Don and his wife, Michelle
     I have been an avid bicycle rider most of my life, riding quite a lot when I was much younger, and then taking the sport back up after a long hiatus about 11 years ago. I thoroughly enjoy the sport, with the feeling of the open air and getting to see a lot of territory at a slower pace than what you can experience driving down the road in an automobile. During the past eight years, my cycling experiences have included participating in the annual “Biking Across Kansas” (BAK) ride in early June.  This is a wonderful way to see the scenery in our great state and to get together with friends you meet every year on the ride, plus get great exercise to keep fit.
     In early May of 2014, I was in the process of training to get ready for the BAK ride. The BAK route is different every year, getting to see a new part of the state and stop at new towns each night. The 2014 route was going to be special, riding from the very southwest corner of the state to the very northeast corner, and it was the 40th anniversary of the start of the BAK rides.  Needless to say, I was eagerly anticipating the ride that year!
     I do quite a bit of riding late in the evening due to a normal 8-5 work schedule, and because the temperatures are more moderate for riding late in the day. Because I often ride after dark, out on public roads, I have very good lights on my bike to make me more visible to car traffic. My wife and I were out riding after dark on a Friday evening four weeks to the day before the BAK ride was set to begin, riding on South Rock Road adjacent to McConnell AFB in southeast Wichita. 
     I do not recall exactly what happened next, as I ended up in the hospital for a week recovering from my injuries, but I was told later that we were struck from behind by a motorist who drifted to the side of the road and hit us. I was riding behind my wife and was struck first, and we are unsure if the impact launched me into my wife or if the car struck her also. The motorists said she was retrieving her phone from her child sitting in the back seat. Whatever actually happened, the motorist was not paying attention to where she was driving.
     Fortunately, I did not suffer any broken bones that immobilized me, even though I ended up going to the hospital. I did suffer from a concussion severe enough that I was not aware of where I was for three to four days, various cuts and bruises, and was very sore and stiff for a month after the accident. I also had nerve damage in my right arm that made my hand and fingers numb, that eventually had to be operated on to relocate a nerve that had been pinched. My wife has also had a number of issues with damage to her shoulder and knee that required surgery.
     We as bicyclists are aware of the potential for accidents when we ride, and try to watch out for each other when we ride in groups, watching for traffic coming up from behind. But a rider cannot watch behind themselves 100% of the time. Unfortunately we have to accept the fact that not all drivers are as attentive as they should be and that accidents do happen. 
    Since the time of my accident, I have been aware of several other accidents that have happened where the cyclist who was hit died of their injuries. This is a sad fact that someone who was out enjoying their favorite sporting event and staying fit was struck and injured or killed by an inattentive motorist. I was especially fortunate and blessed that my injuries were not more severe, and was able to return to cycling about six weeks after my accident. I have even been able to resume by BAK rides for the past two years, but mostly have no lingering effects from the accident.
     As you are out driving in your automobiles, please be aware that cyclists may be out on the same roads you are traveling on. Please be courteous and respectful of them and encourage your friends and families to do the same. Cyclists will be on the losing end of a car/bicycle accident, and we want to return home to our families just like highway workers in a work zone want to.

Don Snyder is the Wichita Metro Engineer for KDOT

To read more stories about the importance of safety check out our Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day blog:

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Cost of Distracted Driving

By Wayne Rugenstein

     Hi, my name is Wayne Rugenstein.  For the past 20 years it has been my job to drive. Driving is something that I have always enjoyed, probably way back to when I was 15 years old and I got my permit and a 1965 Mustang.
     The Mustang was something I had obsessed over for a few years, especially the early ones. My Dad and I worked on the Mustang to make sure it functioned as it should. Not only did I think they were just cool, but after getting my license it also represented freedom. 
     Part of that freedom was driving myself and some friends to school. On a sunny March day, I was showing off the new stereo that my Dad and I put in. What I had failed to notice was that traffic had stopped in front of me and I was about 40 feet from a stationary vehicle and I was going almost 30 miles per hour.
     I hit a 1977 Chrysler Cordoba, a monster of a vehicle that I barely scratched with the front of my Mustang. I had been wearing my seat belt, as were my passengers, but they were lap belts only. I struck the steering wheel with my face and remembered seeing lots of blood.  
     Luckily my injuries were minor and my passengers and the other driver were ok as well. It was a blessing that this accident was literally in front of a fire station.  Unfortunately, my Mustang had taken the brunt of the collision and just about everything on the front of it needed replaced.  
     As I look back on this now after nearly 30 years has passed, I recognize that I was very lucky that no one was seriously hurt. I had made a substantial error, but lived to learn from it.
      As a professional driver with over 2 million safe miles, I see distracted drivers every day. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), in 2014 there were 3,179 fatalities and 431,000 injuries caused by distracted driving. Many causes of distracted driving include using smart phones, watching movies, reading, and yes, even adjusting a radio.
     I see my job differently today than I used to. The commercial vehicle I drive for my employer is filled with freight that our customers trust will be delivered on time, intact and damage free. I also must recognize the symptoms of distracted drivers and drive sort of like a sponge, soaking up the mistakes or poor decisions of those drivers to ensure that I do not add to those NHTSA numbers.
     My hope is that you will do the same with me to “Put the Brakes on Fatalities.” The loss of a life or an injury due to distracted driving is a cost that is too high to pay for reading that text message or searching for your favorite song.  

Wayne Rugenstein is a Kansas Road Team Member and also a driver for FedEx.

To read more stories about the importance of safety check out our Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day blog:

Friday, September 16, 2016

SAFE is the goal

By Sandy Horton
     In early 2008, Dave Corp with the Kansas Traffic Safety Office met with me regarding the low seatbelt compliance rate for Crawford County.  At the time I was Sheriff of Crawford County and surprised to hear we had the lowest compliance rate of 53% overall and only 61% of teen drivers buckling up. This information came from traffic surveys conducted in 20 of the most populated counties in Kansas.  
     From that conversation an idea was born and after several meetings with school administrators and students, SAFE (Seatbelts Are For Everyone) was created in all six of the Crawford County high schools serving 1,280 students. 
     Students quickly bought into the program and essentially built SAFE from the ground up including picking out the name. The pledge card used now statewide was actually designed by a Pittsburg High School student. The students were soon taught how to take the seatbelt survey from the school parking lot and present safety messages to the student body. SAFE soon expanded to other school districts and continues to grow every year.
     In 2012, my last year as sheriff before retiring and continuing in my position of Executive Director of the Kansas Sheriffs Association, the teen seatbelt compliance rate in Crawford County had increased to 88%. There were 33 rollover accidents that year involving teen drivers and passengers. Of those 33, only 3 were unbuckled with only 1 reportable injury.   
In 2014, the Kansas Sheriffs Association (KSA) adopted SAFE as one of its public safety initiatives which continues today.

Sandy Horton retired as Crawford County Sheriff and is currently the Executive Director of the Kansas Sheriffs Association

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Crashes can happen anywhere

Amanda Horner, left, and her cousin
By Amanda Horner 
     “We’re only going a couple miles.” It’s a phrase I hear so often when people explain why they don’t think they need to wear a seat belt. “The speed limit is only 15 mph.” Whenever I hear these words, I cringe.
     When I was 14 years old, my uncle sent my cousin and me to the store because a dog they were dog sitting had eaten the hamburger intended for the family dinner that Sunday afternoon. Nichelle, who was 16, and I begrudgingly agreed to run the errand. We jumped into her 1993 Honda Accord, fastened our seat belts and started to make our way the one mile to Hen House. As she started her car, the newest Creed song played, a song I already detested, but Nichelle wanted to listen to. 
     As we backed out of the driveway, we punched the radio buttons, doing our best to win the music battle. In an effort to get the upper hand, I pulled my seat belt loose and leaned as close to the radio as I could. Mustn’t. Listen. To. CREED. After Nichelle paused at the stop sign, just two houses down from where we started, she turned right and kept turning right. Going only approximately 10 mph, the car managed to jump the curb and head straight into a tree. 
     I remember being confused. I knew there was glass on me, but I wasn’t sure how. I remember Nichelle telling me to “Go get my dad.” I got out of the car and ran back the two houses we had passed to go find help. I remember noticing blood falling on the ground, completely clueless it was gushing from my head. 
     I ran through the garage and to the kitchen sink, trying to save my Sunday clothes from the blood that was already covering them. My uncle was told a foggy version of what happened, but knew enough to go get my cousin. He carried her back, unconscious from hitting her head on the steering wheel, her car too old to have airbags. 
     The ambulance, firefighters and police arrived. A policeman lectured me for not wearing my seat belt. I wanted to explain that I had worn it, but I knew it didn’t matter because I knew he was right. 
     I knew he was right because even though I had buckled, I loosened it and put myself in danger. I knew that he was right because Nichelle and I were fighting over the radio; she was not paying attention to the road. I knew he was right because I could see the bump in the windshield of that 1993 Honda Accord that my head created. 
     When I hear people say they don’t need to wear a seat belt because of a short distance or because of a low speed limit, I remember that lecture and I remember how lucky Nichelle and I were to only have cuts and bruises from our crash. Crashes can happen anywhere, even two houses down from your uncle’s, only going 10mph.

Amanda Horner is a Traffic Safety Specialist with the Kansas Traffic Safety Resource Office
To read more stories about the importance of safety check out our Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day blog:

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The choice to drink and drive ended two young lives

By Barby Jobe 
Kylie and Kyle
     My friends often say “you’re so strong,” but that’s a choice for me.  They aren’t with me when I drive to and from work and that special song comes on the radio.  My throat tightens up and the tears stream from my eyes and all I can think about is her.  
     They aren’t with me when I wake up on her birthday each December, so close to Christmas, and we’re supposed to celebrate. They aren’t with me to understand how much my heart aches when I watch my two sons score touchdowns or goals or go to state and I know how much they miss her cheers and words of encouragement, and most of all her advice. 
     They are not with me when all her friends graduate from college and her name is in glitter on their caps. They aren’t with me when her best friends get married and she is recognized as their maid of honor but she isn’t there. There’s that same feeling of my throat tightening, threatening to suffocate me and I’m not feeling very strong. They aren’t with me when I’m driving on a highway, any highway, late at night and it’s all I can do to shake the horrible images that keep flowing into my head. 
Kylie and her brothers
     They aren’t with me when I think it took just one person. One person who made a choice.  One person who chose to drink.  One person who chose to drink a lot. One person who then chose to get behind the wheel of his car.  One person to enter the highway going 90 mph heading west towards Colorado on the eastbound entrance ramp. 
They weren’t with me when I got the call. They weren’t with me when I had to call my dentist so we could confirm it was my baby girl. I don’t feel so strong. One person killed two precious young lives. Both lives, full of love and light, were put out by just one person who chose to drink and drive. 
Life is full of choices, please choose wisely. Drink responsibly. Select a driver, call a cab, call Uber, call your mom. Please don’t drink and drive.  You can’t take it back.
I wish you could’ve met my daughter, Kylie Brooke Jobe, and her boyfriend, Kyle Thornburg.  Kylie was a 20-year-old sophomore at Oklahoma State University and her boyfriend, Kyle, was 22 and attended Wichita State University.  Both were from Wichita, were high school sweethearts and had both attended Maize High School. We had just spent a fabulous spring break skiing together in Colorado. On their way home, they became the innocent victims of a drunk driver.  They were killed in an instant, at mile marker 211,on I-70, when a 27-year-old man entered the Interstate going in the wrong direction. He had a blood alcohol level of .23 – almost three times the legal limit. 
Kylie was the light of my life, my best friend, beautiful and full of life.  There are no words to describe the hole in my heart that can never be filled.

 Barby Jobe Myers
Mother of Kylie Jobe – Born, Dec. 20, 1990 – Killed, March 23, 2011
The lives of Kylie and Kyle are honored each March at Run2Believe, a 5K race, held at Maize High School. Race proceeds are used to raise awareness in high schools about the dangers of drinking and driving and to support scholarships in their honor.    

To read more stories about the importance of safety check out our Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day blog:

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Monday, September 12, 2016

Creative campaign encourages pedestrian/bike health, safety

Over the summer, Lawrence-Douglas Health Department  adopted a new and creative ad campaign to encourage healthy exercise and safety. Jenalea Myers, an employee at the LDC Health Department, describes the development of this ad campaign.

"Earlier this year, Community Health staff  at the Health Department came across the Travel with Care campaign, which is an initiative of People for Bikes," Myers said.

The Travel with Care campaign helped the LDC Health Department outline how the ads would look and they gave them suggestions on who should be featured and the messages the ads should send.

Myers said The Travel with Care campaign in Lawrence also coincides with the city's Be Active Safe Routes initiative.

"We decided it would be a great campaign to adopt locally because of the work being done around our Be Active Safe Routes initiative. We liked that the campaign not only encouraged pedestrian-bicycle safety but that it also highlighted everyday people who are cyclists, making it relatable and hopefully increasing the number of local residents cycling."

Pre-production of this campaign began earlier this spring with a local search for bikers to photograph. From there it only took two months for the ads to begin running in a variety of media.

"In April, we selected the local residents to be featured and hired a photographer to capture images of them with their bikes," Myers said. "From there, we created the ads based on template provided by People for Bikes. We began doing advertising in June, which has included print ads in the Lawrence Journal-World, Lawrence Magazine and Lawrence Kids Magazine and digital ads on the Journal-World’s website. We’re now in the process of placing ads on the University of Kansas buses. We also had posters printed that have been distributed around Lawrence in highly visible public places.

According to Myers, The Travel with Care Campaign has proven to be a success.

"The feedback has been great so far!" Myers said. "We’ve heard from many people who have seen the ads either in the newspaper, in a public place or on our social media pages. It’s been so great that we’ve considered doing an additional photo shoot in the near future to include some more cyclists!"

For more information about People with Bikes click here.
Want to learn more about what the City of Lawrence is doing to encourage safe bike routes? 
Click here

Friday, September 9, 2016

Kansas roads continue to exceed performance targets

Quality of Kansas roads top 90 percent,
far exceeding performance targets

The past year was a very smooth ride for travelers on the Kansas highway system.

Kansas Department of Transportation Interim Secretary Richard Carlson today announced that Kansas roads exceeded performance targets for both interstate and non-interstate miles in fiscal year 2016. Interstate miles earning the rank of “good” hit 96.7 percent, far exceeding the 85 percent performance target; non-interstate miles hit 91.7 percent, also passing the category target of 80 percent.

“Over the years, Kansans have come to expect a great highway system and I’m proud the numbers show that’s what we’ve continued to deliver,” said Secretary Richard Carlson. “The performance scores are well above the targets for both interstate and non-interstate roads, and we intend to continue to provide a system that protects the health and economic well-being of Kansans.”

This marks the fifth consecutive fiscal year Kansas roads have exceeded performance targets under the Brownback administration.

 “Kansas has a history of outstanding roads and I’m proud to continue that tradition,” said Governor Sam Brownback. “These high performing roads are made possible by dedicated KDOT employees and I thank them for contributing to the success of Kansas roads.”

 The pavement condition rating is based on a combined score of surface roughness and surface distress, such as cracking or rutting. Every single mile of the state’s 10,000-mile system is evaluated annually.