Monday, October 31, 2016

Trick or treat safety tips

This evening, candy will flow and trick-or-treaters across the country will take to the streets to collect the sugary goodness. Here are some safety tips to ensure everyone has a frightfully good time.

  • Turn on your headlights to improve visibility - Even in the day time.
  • Watch for trick-or-treaters on curbs, streets and medians. They could be wearing darker costumes so keep your eyes peeled.
  • Slow down in residential areas.  Give yourself extra time to react should a trick-or-treater dash into the road.
  • Be sure to scan both sides of the street as you drive. Be prepared  to stop for trick-or-treaters.

Trick or Treaters:

 If you are young at heart and will be taking to the streets to collect some goodies, there are a few things you need to know:
  • Let your parents or guardians know where you will be going. Create a route and stick to it. 
  • Follow safety rules, and look both ways before crossing the streets. Don’t cross between vehicles.
  • Trick or treat in a group. It can be more entertaining and safer. Younger children should be with a responsible adult or youth.
  • Be bright at night - ensure that that your costume can be seen by drivers. Enhance your costumes with reflective tape or glow sticks.
  • You should be able to see without difficulty. Don’t wear bulky masks or head gear. Consider using non-toxic face make up or paint.
  • Carry a flashlight inside your Halloween bucket or bag so you can see where you are going. DON’T shine it into the eyes of drivers.
  • Stay on sidewalks - if you must walk in the street, walk on the left side, facing traffic.

Have a safe and happy Halloween! 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Don't lose your head this Halloween


Monsters, ghouls and witches will be celebrating this Halloween weekend and KDOT wants to remind all creatures of the night that driving under the influence can have deadly consequences. 

On Halloween night between 2009 and 2013, 119 people were killed by drunk drivers and 43 percent of all motor vehicle deaths involved drunk driving.
In America, anyone driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 grams per deciliter or higher is considered a drunk driver.

You can have a howling good time and stay safe if you follow these tips:
  • Before you begin drinking, make a plan to get home safely. Studies have shown alcohol makes it harder to judge situations. You may not be able to make wise decisions later in the night.
  • Make sure you have a designated driver, public transportation or a sober friend or relative to you get home safely.
  • Even if you have only had a few drinks, it is still unsafe to drive.
  • If your community has a sober ride program, use it.
  • Contact your local law enforcement if you spot an impaired driver on the road.
  • If you see someone who is thinking about driving impaired, take their keys and offer to help them find a safe way home.
  • If you think you can walk home while drunk, think again. It can be just as dangerous as if you were driving. If you must walk home, ask someone you trust to walk with you.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Oh Deer: A love story about improving driving safety

Although this story has a light-hearted feel. Deer crashes are expected to be on the rise this year and should be taken seriously.  Check out more safety tips here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Governor Sam Brownback appoints Richard Carlson as KDOT Secretary

Topeka – Governor Sam Brownback today named Richard Carlson Acting Secretary of the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) and Director of the Kansas Turnpike Authority (KTA). Carlson has served as Interim Secretary of KDOT since July 15.

Carlson served in the Kansas House of Representatives for 10 years beginning in 2004, representing the 61st District of Pottawatomie County and northern Wabaunsee County. He was the Chairman of the House Taxation Committee for six years and served on the Appropriations Committee and Commerce and Labor Committee. Most recently Carlson was the legislative liaison for the Kansas Department of Revenue.

“Richard Carlson brings both experience and a deep understanding of Kansas and its citizens to this position,” said Governor Brownback. “I appreciate his commitment to serving the state and know that he will be a strong and positive leader for KDOT.”

"I appreciate Governor Brownback's confidence in my management abilities,” Carlson said. “I look forward continuing to oversee our outstanding Kansas transportation system, recognized as one of the best in the nation."

This appointment will require confirmation by the Kansas State Senate.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Scare factor encourages pedestrians to pay attention

‘Tis the season for all things scary. With Halloween just a week away, Pittsburgh Penn., is taking advantage of this spooky time of year to encourage safety.
Because of the rise of smart phone usage, pedestrians are paying less attention when crossing the streets and are focusing on the next tweet, text message or even the next big video game.

In an article published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that improvisational actors dressed as zombies or the Grim Reaper are stopping people who are paying attention to their phones while crossing busy streets and reminding them to look up using the catch phrase, “Look Alive.”

In the video below, The Grim Reaper heckles pedestrians, with phrases like, “If you text, you are next!”

A geofencing app is also being used that sends alerts to pedestrians when they are using their phones at busy intersections.

Crossing busy streets doesn’t have to be scary, but with pedestrian/car incidents on the rise, this is a message that should be taken seriously all year round. 

Check out the video below and let us know your thoughts on this campaign! Could you see something like this coming to Kansas? Do you feel it would make a difference on reminding pedestrians to pay attention?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Five reminders for National Teen Driver Safety Week

Studies show that the leading cause of death for teen drivers between the ages of 15-19 is motor vehicle crashes. In 2014, there were 2,679 teen drivers involved in fatal crashes and approximately 123,000 teens were injured in crashes in the U.S.
In an effort to raise awareness about five very real driving dangers, KDOT is participating in National Teen Driver Safety Week and would like to remind teen drivers of a few things:


Your car is not a phone booth: You aren’t superman, but you can be a hero if you don’t use your cellphone while driving. 

     Your car is not a clown car: There are a lot of crazy clowns running around. Too many passengers in your car can lead to distracted driving.

        Your car is not a race car:  Race cars belong on the race track, not on city streets. Driving at safe speeds can reduce car crashes. 

    Your car is not a bar:  Don't drink and drive. Alcohol leads to impaired driving and even death.

Your car is not invincible. Car crashes happen, and wearing your seat belt is one of the safest ways you can survive should you find yourself in a crash. 
If teens as well as all drivers follow these reminders, traffic fatalities and car crashes would be greatly reduced.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Sharing the road with farm equipment

Fall is in the air and that means it is planting and harvesting time for area farmers.  Farming vehicles may be on the roads more this time of year and KDOT would like to remind travelers to travel safely around these important pieces of equipment.

According to the Kansas Highway Patrol, most farm equipment cannot travel at highway speeds and they typically do not exceed 15-25 mph.

Kansans know this scene all too well: The route to and from work may require traveling on smaller state highways or roads and drivers may encounter a large tractor, combine or other farm equipment. 

Perhaps drivers grow frustrated with the situation and just wish it would get out of the way so they can get home.  Unfortunately, the road is curved and hilly. Passing this giant, slow-moving vehicle is unsafe.  

According to transportation laws as long as slow-moving vehicles have the orange triangle signage, they have just as much right to that road as vehicles that can go at a faster speed. 

Farming Equipment is often much larger and wider than other vehicles and the lanes of traffic. When driving around these slow-moving vehicles extra caution should be practiced.

Here are some tips from the KHP for sharing the road with farmers:

  • Don’t assume the farmer knows you’re there. Most operators of farm equipment regularly check for vehicles behind them, however, most of their time must be spent looking ahead to stay on the road and watch for oncoming traffic. Implements are very loud, hindering the farmer’s ability to hear your vehicle. 
  • Pass with extreme caution.  Don’t pass unless you can see clearly ahead of both your vehicle and the farm equipment you are passing. If there are curves or hills blocking your view of oncoming traffic, wait until you can clearly visualize the area you’re passing in. You should not pass in a designated “No Passing Zone,” even if you are stuck behind a farm vehicle. Do not pass if you are within 100 feet of any intersection, railroad grade crossing, bridge, elevated structure, or tunnel.
  • When a farm vehicle pulls to the right side of the road, it does not mean it is turning right or allowing you to pass. Due to the size of some farm equipment, the farmer must execute wide left turns, so allow it plenty of room and time to turn, and be alert to see if there might be a driveway or field they may be turning into.
  • Be patient. Don’t assume that a farmer can move aside to let you pass. Shoulders may be soft, wet, or steep, which can cause the farm vehicle to tip, or the shoulder may not support the weight of a heavy farm vehicle. The farmer understands you are being delayed and will move over at the first safe location available.
  • Think of the slow moving vehicle emblem as a warning to adjust your speed. When you see the slow moving vehicle emblem, you should immediately slow down. While the emblems are visible from a long distance away, it is often difficult to judge the speed at which you are closing in on a vehicle, especially at night. 
  • Pay attention.  When you are not focused solely on the road, you increase your chances of a collision, especially if you should come upon a slow moving farm vehicle.

Check out this video for more information on how to share the road with other large, slow-moving vehicles safely. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

2016 Fly Kansas Tour a soaring success

George Laliberte, preps his Ercoupe plane as the sun rises on Day 1 of the 2016 Fly Kansas Air Tour. 

Nearly 40 airplanes took to the skies  to celebrate The 2016 Fly Kansas Air Tour Sept. 29 - Oct. . In an effort to raise awareness of the importance of the aviation industry in Kansas, nine Kansas Airports welcomed the traveling pilots and their planes.  Around 1500 students and the public got the chance to see a variety of planes up close and meet with the pilots who flew their airplanes across Kansas skies.
A parachuter soars with the American Flag trailing behind during the opening Ceremony of the 2016 Fly Kansas Air Tour.

The tour began just after sunrise on Sept. 29, in Wellington. Participants were given the opportunity to watch arriving aircraft. A T-6 Texan, a medical helicopter, a fly-over from a military aircraft and a parachuter  were all highlights to the opening ceremony.  

Pilot Lindsey Dreiling, explains how this Cessna 172 SkyHawk works to a group of students at the Rooks County airport. 
During the tour, the public and students learned about the influence that aviation has on the Kansas economy. At the Rooks County stop, air medics explained the importance of The Kansas Airport Improvement program, which was created to improve and maintain smaller airports while increasing air travel and access to an air ambulance within 30 miles.
An Aeronca Champion 7CCM sits on the ramp during a break in the tour as pilots refuel and gear up for the next stop. 

During the Topeka stop, Governor Sam Brownback and Interim Secretary Richard Carlson addressed a crowd of girl scouts and the public  during a stop celebrating Girls in Aviation at the Combat Air Museum in Topeka. Brownback encouraged the girl scouts to work hard and follow their dreams.

The Fly Kansas Air Tour first took flight in 1928 and again in 1929, but it was another 79 years before the tour returned in 2008. Another short hiatus later, Kansas skies once again welcomed the tour in 2014.  The Tour included stops in Wellington, Great Bend, Rooks County, Dodge City, Scott City, Colby, Salina, Topeka and ended in Newton. 

Check out this video highlighting some of the stops and activities during the Fly Kansas Air Tour!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day Contest Winners

Over the past few weeks leading up to this week’s Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day, KDOT has shared personal stories about the importance of traffic safety.

Part of this important message begins with our state’s youth. During the Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day campaign, students across the state had the opportunity to get powerful messages across in the form of posters or short informational videos.

Of the many poster entries three statewide winners were selected:

Brooklyn Green-Lawson
Age 7 
Riverton, Kan.

Sierra deKoning
Age 12
Axtell, Kan.

Kayleigh Flores
Age 9
Moscow, Kan.

To see more of the regional art winners click here

The video contest winners are linked below:
1stWichita East High School
2ndCardinal Productions, Eudora High School

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

#IAMKDOT: Joyce Poitevint

This month’s #IAMKDOT feature is Joyce Poitevint.

She began her career with KDOT in 1992 and worked at the KDOT sign shop for 20 years. Beginning in 2012, Poitevint became an engineering technician in the field for a year and half. This illustration of Poitevint was from her time as a field technician while working on the South Lawrence Traffic way in 2012. 

In 2014, Poitevint moved to KDOT headquarters as a traffic control technician. In August of this year, Poitevint was promoted to Lighting Technician.

Poitevint said that when she is not at work she enjoys farming and creating artwork. She is a god-mother, daughter, sister and friend.

#IAMKDOT is an illustration project that recognizes KDOT employees who work hard to ensure Kansans enjoy safe roads, rails and skies. Safe and successful transportation also helps Kansans financially. Some employees of KDOT fill dangerous but necessary positions and this project also serves as a reminder for travelers to slow down and remember that underneath those neon vests, are individuals with families and hobbies waiting for them at home.

Do you know a KDOT worker that deserves recognition? Nominations are open! Email today to get started! 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


We wrapped up our eighth annual Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day blog series. Thank you so much to everyone who participated, and a special thank you to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx for being a part of this series for the last several years.
Some of these were heartwarming stories, and some of these were stories about tragedies. But they all showed why traffic safety is so important. Every time you get in a car, in a truck, on a motorcycle, on a bike, or even walking, getting safely where you are going must be the priority.
Yesterday, Oct. 10, was the official day to celebrate Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day, but it’s important to focus on this message all year long.

As a final safety message for this series, AT&T published a video as part of its #ITCANWAIT safety campaign – very powerful – please watch and share,

Monday, October 10, 2016

It’s bad, really bad

By Cheryl Carlson

On a bitterly cold morning in January 2013, I was on my way to work deep in my own thoughts about what the day would have in store for me. Little did I know that tragedy had already struck our family. My cell phone rang and my grandson, Wyatt, was calling to tell me that his sisters had just had a bad accident on their way to school. He was panicked and crying and I could barely understand what he was telling me. He said, “Grandma it’s bad, really bad.”

I drove directly to the accident site where other family members, police, ambulance and EMS had already arrived. As I approached the mangled remains of their Jeep Liberty I experienced the most intense fear I had ever known. I saw our two sons and Wyatt all standing together and crying. Our Sheriff, Greg Riat, came over to me and gave me a big hug and encouraged me not to worry, that they would get the girls out. At that point I really didn’t even know if they were alive.

Jordan and Bailey

They had been wearing their seat belts but they didn’t end up in them. The force of the accident must have pulled them up and out of their seats because their seat covers had also been pulled off. But hopefully that’s what kept them in the vehicle. They had both been thrown into the back storage area of the Jeep and Jordan (age 15) was wedged into that small area on top of her sister, Bailey (age 9). There was no movement as the EMS personnel and other emergency workers frantically worked to free them. The “Jaws of Life” finally succeeded in getting the roof cut through enough to get Jordan out. She wasn’t fully conscious but thankfully was alive and in a great deal of pain.

The force of the accident had pulled both of her boots from her feet. One foot was, at some point, outside the vehicle as it rolled end over end two or three times. Due to severe head trauma, Life Star was called to transport her to Stormont Vail. I can still hear that helicopter as it landed in the field near the accident and then the complete feeling of helplessness and fear as it left…and the tears I have in my eyes now as I relive that horrible day.

As the helicopter lifted off, I called Richard at the Capitol to tell him of the accident and to have him go directly to the hospital to meet the helicopter. Then our attention was focused back on Bailey who was by now, moaning and crying and trying to move. Her pain was so intense that all she could do was scream. It was freezing cold, about 9 degrees, and her new coat was cut off of her to help get her free. We had just given that coat to her for Christmas and she was not happy. Finally, after almost an hour she was placed on a board and I’ll never forget what she said. A female EMS member asked her about her pain and wanted to know if her pelvis hurt. She replied, “I don’t know what a pelvis is!” That was the only bright spot up to that moment.

Bailey in a body shell brace

She was transported to Stormont Vail by ambulance. She and her sister were in the Trauma Center for about 36 hours and then were well enough to be in the PICU. Jordan had to have surgery to repair a toe that was mangled and after about six days in the hospital was allowed to come home. Bailey had compression fractures of every bone in her back and was in excruciating pain for days. She was fitted with a neck brace and a body “shell” brace that she had to wear for about 6 weeks. After being released from the hospital she had to go to the Madonna Center in Lincoln for a short while and came home about three weeks later.

The accident happened on a gravel road when Jordan got too close to a ridge of frozen rock. It threw her across the road at which time she over compensated and shot back across. Her front axle came off. Then she hit a wall of the ditch which threw them end over end into the pasture. She, like most farm kids, learn to drive at an early age. The accident was probably due to a lack of experience of driving in general, and driving on gravel which is a totally different ball game.

Now both girls are doing just fine. Jordan has graduated from high school and is beginning studies in nursing. Bailey is now an active 8th grader who is a cheerleader. She has taken dance since the accident, loves to swim and loves to ride her horse, Renegade. We are so blessed to have them in our lives and cherish every hug we share.

Cheryl Carlson is the wife of KDOT Interim Secretary Richard Carlson

Friday, October 7, 2016

Tragedies that can’t be reversed

By John Milburn

There’s an old saying I’ve heard from veterans describing war or vacationers coming back from an exotic locale: you wouldn’t understand until you’ve been there yourself.
In a way, I have been when it comes to traffic crashes. Oh, I’ve had a few fender-benders, but nothing like what I witnessed in my previous life as a reporter in small communities in Kansas. Those opportunities afforded me access to some of the most horrific and tragic crashes one can imagine.
One of the first was in the summer of 1986 while working on my last night of an internship in Pittsburg. Regular staff members were taking their vacations so I filled in while they were gone. My summer ended on the cops and court beat. The court side was easy as there were few happenings worth reporting during that stretch. The police beat was a bit different and quite enlightening to what reporters and emergency responders face on any given call.
This particular evening a call came in over the scanner of a two-car accident near the airport northwest of town. Our photographer and I grabbed gear and headed out to what we suspected was a bad scene. And it was.
Two teens had “borrowed” mom’s car and were out driving country roads at a high rate of speed when they blew through an intersection and collided broadside with a pick-up truck. The truck was knocked into a field and heavily damaged. We could see the EMS crews working to save the young driver. And just like in the movies, sparks and smoke were coming from the vehicle, giving a sense of urgency.
Where was the other vehicle? What was left of the small car was a crumpled heap near the fence row. The two young boys were thrown from the car and lie dead in the tall weeds in the ditch. I didn’t know them, but knew they weren’t much younger than me. In an instant, what seemed like a fun summer night driving around town turned deadly.
Those images stuck with me through college and my first job in Arkansas City where I was a reporter and editor. A similar call came in the newsroom one afternoon about the time school was letting out. A one-car accident was reported in the northwest part of the county.
We pulled to the scene and EMS and fire crews were working the accident. A young man had lost control of his car and crashed into a fence row. He was killed instantly.
I share these stories as a former reporter and as a current parent. They are images that are forever etched in my memories. They were so-called war stories that reporters share when discussing what they’ve done over the years. But as a parent now of two teens that are learning to drive, they serve as teaching moments that cause me to tense up each time they are behind the wheel.
Not every trip out of the driveway will end in tragedy, but I want my children—everyone’s children— to know the risks. It’s dangerous enough under normal circumstances for these young drivers to navigate town. Adding too much speed, hazardous weather or all of the distractions of modern technology and the risks multiply.
I don’t want some young reporter to ever have to walk up to a crash and see another child injured or killed. While they may be good teaching moments or stories to share back at the newsroom, they are tragedies that can’t be reversed.
John Milburn is the Director of Legislative and Public Affairs for the Kansas Department of Administration

Thursday, October 6, 2016

A game of inches

By Keith Lindemann

Can you remember the last time you had the experience of standing on the highway while passing vehicles fly by? Chances are, you were pretty nervous while you were changing that flat tire or adding that gallon or two of gas. The sound of tires on the pavement just inches away and the rush of air created by the passing vehicles are warning signs of how dangerous it is out there. These warning signs should motivate you to finish the job before the unthinkable happens. The unthinkable is - being struck and killed by a passing motorist.
I experience these feelings most every shift while working the streets, roads and highways as Captain on Rescue-1. Rescue-1 responds with law enforcement and EMS to all injury accidents in Salina, and in Saline County. Once on the scene of an accident, my responsibilities include traffic control and performing extrication techniques to free trapped occupants. Believe me - traffic control is often times more challenging than the extrications themselves. Directing all oncoming traffic safely around the emergency scene can be challenging, mainly because of inattentive drivers.
Did you know that if changing your flat tire takes 30 minutes, up to 300 vehicles might pass by during that time? How many of those 300 drivers are drunk, drugged, drowsy, texting or distracted by something else in their vehicles? These human factors, along with ice, rain, snow, curves and hills, are the leading causes of secondary collisions.
Despite attending and instructing classes in Traffic Incident Management and setting up the perfect traffic control zone, I have been conditioned to never really be comfortable while working in traffic. Most responders don’t trust the traffic because of close calls they have experienced at one time or another during their careers. On average, 12 law enforcement officers, 5 firefighters, and 60 tow operators are killed each year due to distracted drivers crashing into emergency scenes.
Why am I writing this blog? Why am I so passionate about the subject? My passion is fueled because of personally experiencing several close calls (some within inches) and by witnessing a few actual secondary crashes during my 30 years with the Salina Fire Department (26 assigned to Rescue-1). Thankfully I am alive to write about them.
In 2011, a distracted driver ran into one of our scenes on I-135 and struck a Salina PD officer who was assisting with traffic control (see photo above). I witnessed this secondary crash while standing in the median about 100 feet away. I will never forget the emotions I felt while running toward the patrol car to check on the condition of the officer and distracted driver. The crash resulted in 2 additional patients, and yet more traffic control problems. Thankfully both the officer, who was seated in his vehicle, and the distracted driver were treated and released from our local hospital.
Lindemann during rope rescue training
We’ve all heard the message “Move Over and Slow Down.” The public needs to know that “Move Over and Slow Down” is a state law in Kansas and not just a suggestion. Vehicles traveling at highway speeds crashing into vehicles that are stopped are always more severe than the original crash and often times result in fatalities. I can say that when my crew and I are working an incident, the drivers that actually move over and actually slow down absolutely make the scene safer for everyone, including themselves.
In closing, my recommendation for motorists would be to always be aware of conditions ahead, watch for emergency lights in the distance, obey warning signs and traffic cones, and move over and slow down for responders. For those of you already practicing these recommendations, thank you! It really is a game of inches.
Keith Lindemann is the Fire/Rescue Captain at the Salina Fire Department

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Don’t be selfish, be selfless

By Cpl. Jordan Couturier 

Throughout the brief 11 years of my career in law enforcement I have witnessed the good, bad, and the ugly sides of traffic safety. Whether it was injury, fatality or no harm at all, each crash gave testament to a predictable denominator in each unfortunate incident:  failed human responsibility.
Obviously we cannot foresee when these crashes will occur. However, we certainly know they will occur and it is only a matter of when it will happen. Even though humans are intricately designed living organisms, capable of the most amazing feats, we fail at the most simple tasks. 
Crashes are preventable incidents.  Sure, there are examples of cataclysmic events or sudden mechanical failure. But, the vast majority of crashes occur because a person is failing to complete a task. No one intends to be involved in a crash. They might feel they are the safest driver on the roadway. 
But what about the other driver thinking they can make up time while running a little late for a meeting?  Or the driver following closer than usual behind a vehicle moving at a seemingly snail like pace?  And of course, there is the driver who quickly glances now and then at their phone just to make sure nothing else is happening in the world?  But, they aren’t you right? You’re the safest driver on the street.
So what is the problem then?  What is the predictable denominator?  Them? The other drivers?  Guess again.  It is you. It is us. Frankly, we humans are selfish.  We are more concerned about our own little driving world that we willingly cut corners and push the envelope while setting aside the common sense rules of the road. What do you think would happen if we all cared a lot less about ourselves and cared a little more about the motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians sharing our traffic ways? It definitely would not be a perfect world, but I would bet each one of us would be a lot safer on the roadways.   
So, how did I get to this conclusion? Possibly it was the teenage boy thrown over 60 feet from his bicycle after being struck by a vehicle while attempting to cross a four-lane city street. Maybe it was the drunk parents colliding with trees and vehicles with their kids seated in the back. Perhaps it was the pregnant mother walking the shorter route across the street and meeting the front bumper of a passing motorist. Or maybe it has been the hundreds of other crashes I have responded to where someone needed to get somewhere fast and in a hurry, distracted themselves with anything other than driving their several thousand pound vehicle, and ignored the basic rules of driving. 
What do they all have in common?  You. You are the drivers, the pedestrians, and the cyclists.  It begins and ends with you. No more excuses. Choose to be responsible for your own safety and those around you. Make the conscious decision to care more about the people affected by your traffic safety practices. Don’t be selfish. Be selfless.   

Cpl. Jordan Couturier is with the City of Leawood Police Department

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Your decisions on the road affect others

By Neal Charles


I’m that guy you talk to on the phone when you see or are part of a crash. I’m the one trying to keep you calm on the line and get the information of what has happened and what is needed in that moment. I’ve been working in the Kansas Turnpike’s Incident Management Center for several years, and unlike those who experience one or two accidents in their lifetime, I hear and assist with multiple crashes each week.

You would think as someone who is regularly on the other end of the line during these intense situations that I would become numb to what I hear. Well, that definitely isn’t the case. While I’ve unfortunately become used to tragic news, those calls about major incidents still get my heart pumping every time. I’ve experienced so many fatalities over the years, many of which still stick to me.

One that I still think about happened several years ago when a drunk driver hit a family in another vehicle, killing almost everyone involved. They were just headed to their family vacation. In an instant, the whole family was changed because of a complete stranger’s decision to drink and drive.

As the person on the other end of the phone, we don’t know the people involved. We stay calm, gather information and dispatch personnel. But, these people stay with us. They’ve gone through moments that are unimaginable.

I urge all of you to remember - your decisions on the road affect others. Stay alert, and don’t make stupid decisions. Traffic laws are there for a reason. I don’t want any of you to be another fatality on a call I answer.

Neal Charles is the Incident Management Center Assistant Supervisor with the Kansas Turnpike Authority

Monday, October 3, 2016

It can wait

By Galen Ludlow

As a KDOT employee with 30-plus years I have witnessed many incidents that could have had disastrous consequences for both the motorist involved and the workers in the work zone.
One of those that really stuck in my mind happened in the first summer of my career. Our crew had set up a work zone to do some patching in the southbound lane on a two-lane highway with paved shoulders. At this time, we were on 10 hour days so by 8 a.m., signs were set at proper spacing and cones for the flagman stations placed.
I was assigned to the south end station and as work started, we (flagmen) began alternating our traffic through the work zone. Shortly after this I observed a single car coming up to the Road Work Ahead sign. I had my flagging paddle turned to stop and left hand raised as required. As the car continues towards me I can hear the sound of the tires on the pavement and the engine. There was no noticeable change in sound as would be associated with a vehicle slowing down. I was taught by senior employees that listening for these is a good way to tell if the vehicle is slowing down.
Still heading toward me and now approaching the Flagman Ahead sign, speed still unchanged, I can see the sun visor is down and the driver is glancing back and forth between the road and the visor mirror. I began backing away toward the shoulder as they quickly approached. When the vehicle passed me I screamed “HEY!” as loud as I could and the driver slammed on the brakes and came to a stop.
As I walked up to the vehicle, I observed a young lady of high school age with a bag of makeup sitting on her lap. She was visibly shaken and apologized. She stated she had not noticed the signs and admitted being distracted by trying to finish her makeup because she was running late. I said to her it is better to be late than not get there at all and sent her on.
In so many ways this could have ended tragically. If we would have been working in the other lane or there had been traffic going through the work zone, injuries and possible fatalities could have occurred. And now with all of today’s technology, there are even more ways for drivers to be distracted. 
Most of us have family we wish to return home to at the end of each day. Waiting to make that call, send that text or even putting on makeup until it can be safely done will help you make it to your original destination and not your final destination. May your travels be safe and pleasant.
Galen Ludlow is KDOT Area Superintendent in Dodge City