Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Sometimes other drivers put us in bad situations

My name is Ben Gardner and for 18 years, I've been a state trooper for the Kansas Highway Patrol.  During my time, I've responded to numerous crashes involving damage, injuries, or death. 
Trooper Ben Gardner
Many of these crashes blur together and get forgotten in my mind. Some will stay with me until the day I no longer wear this uniform and beyond. 

It's easy to bet that most officers remember the first crash they ever responded to while on duty - this is true for me as well. 
The first crash I responded to involved a KDOT grader, which was driving east on U. S. 56, and a teen driver, who was driving fast and failed to recognize the slower, large equipment ahead.  The teen driver collided with the back of the road grader, and his pickup truck rolled multiple times.  Luckily he had his seat belt on. A medical helicopter landed on the scene and transported him to Wichita for treatment. 
The KDOT employee was very shook up.  He was questioning if he did anything wrong, and what could have been done to prevent the crash?  Simply put, the KDOT employee did not do anything wrong.  
This crash, the first one I ever investigated in a new career with the Kansas Highway Patrol, taught me several things that I still believe today. 
1) We might be the best drivers out there, doing nothing wrong, but sometimes other drivers put us in bad situations. This is why we must always wear our seat belts…to prepare for that unwanted, unexpected, not-your-fault situation, not knowing when it's going to play out.
2) When we drive, we must ensure that driving is the primary task at hand, limiting distractions that might take us away from the primary task. Eating, cellphones, talking with others, listening to the radio all move us further away from the focus needed when driving.
This crash occurred 18 years ago, and the lessons learned then are still true today.  


  1. Trooper Gardner: Thanks for your good words about how important it is to focus on our driving and to always buckle up. In this highly distracted world one careless gesture by a driver can result in calamity and devastation for many others. Ditch those distractions, and get yourself and everyone else home safely.

  2. It constantly amazes me how quickly things can change. We need to stay diligent in being aware of our surroundings and being mindful of our driving. We can't control how others drive, but it can certainly impact us. This is a good reminder to me to keep my focus on the road and to be aware of what others are doing around me. Slowing down, wearing my seat belt and limiting distractions just makes sense.

  3. Thank you and all law enforcement officers for your dedication to help keep everyone safe on the highways