Tuesday, October 23, 2018

National teen driver safety week

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2016, teen driver deaths increased 6 percent from the previous year.

To raise awareness about six driving dangers, KDOT is participating in National Teen Driver Safety Week and would like to remind teen drivers:

Don’t drive while impaired: Although teens are too young to legally drink, they still are at risk for driving under the influence. Nearly one out of five teen drivers involved in crashes resulting in a fatality had been drinking, the NHTSA found When it comes to drinking and driving, it’s just not worth it.
Buckle up — every trip, every time. It doesn’t matter where in the vehicle you are sitting, everyone should wear their seat belts. It is one of the easiest ways for teens and their passengers to travel safer and buckling up saves lives. 
Ditch the distractions. Distracted driving is not only dangerous, it is deadly. That text message or social media post can wait. Your life is way too important to risk it. Remember that distracted driving can look like many different things – talking to other passengers, listening to music, turning up the heat or air conditioning and eating. These are just a few of the distractions that all drivers experience.
Go the speed limit. Speeding is a huge problem for drivers of any age., Almost one-third of teen drivers involved in a fatal crash were speeding, the NHTSA found.  Following the speed limit could mean the difference between life and death.
Passengers can affect how you drive. The likelihood of teens engaging in risky driving behaviors or being distracted increases with multiple passengers.  As the driver, you control the mood of your trip. Limit the number of passengers who ride with you or tell them how they can ride safely in your vehicle.
Driving drowsy is dangerous. Everyone is busy, even teens. With sports, studying for tests, extracurricular activities, jobs and even hanging out with loved ones, there is a lot going on in the lives of young drivers. With all these important tasks, the amount of sleep young motorists receive is far less than what is needed to drive safely. Remember to get a good night’s sleep before you get behind the wheel. Only drive when you are fully awake and alert. 
Parents, and guardians, it is up to all of us to teach the next generation the importance of driving safely. Lead by example and show your teens what safe driving behavior looks like.
For more information about National Teen Driver Safety Week please visit: www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/teen-driving.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Are you winter ready?

It may only be early fall in the Sunflower State, but we have already seen the return of wintry weather this month and it is only just the beginning and whether we like it or not, winter is coming. 

Prior to the upcoming winter weather season, the Kansas Department of Transportation, Kansas Turnpike Authority, and the Kansas Highway Patrol are urging motorists to travel safely and prepare for winter road conditions wherever they travel.

Road conditions in the state can be checked utilizing KDOT’s KanDrive site, www.kandrive.org. KanDrive provides map views of road conditions and closures, real-time camera views of current highway conditions, and links to road information for neighboring states. You can also call 5-1-1 from any phone in the state for a recording of road conditions.

The state encourages you to make sure your vehicle is prepared ahead of the storm season, when ice, snow or rain, as well as colder temperatures can make driving more difficult.  Check your wiper blades, tire treads, wiper fluid levels, and that in general your vehicle is in good mechanical working order, including your emergency flashing lights. It is recommended you keep a winter weather emergency kit in your vehicle at all times. Emergency kits should contain item such as: 
  • A flash light
  • Extra warm clothing
  • Extra batteries
  • Extra Vehicle Fluid
  • A shovel
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Non-perishable snack food
  • Bottled water
  • Matches and candles
  • First aid kit
  • Pocket knife
  • Tow chain and/or rope
  • Booster cables
  • Road flares
  • Fluorescent Distress flag
  • Blankets 
As the days grow colder and darker it is important to stay prepared. Winter weather can strike quickly never leave home without your emergency kit. It could save your life. 

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Wet and wild weather affects roads across the state

Last week the state of Kansas experienced two extremes — flooding and snow in October. Highways in several counties were closed for various periods of times, and KDOT crews were there to assist with traffic control. Here are a few areas affected by floodwaters.

Crews from KDOT-Fort Scott use a snowplow to swab cornstalks and other debris away
 from the flooded roadway on K-31 west of Fulton.

South east Kansas
Heavy rainfall led to flooded and closed highways at several locations in southeast Kansas during the week of Oct. 8. K-31 west of Fulton and K-65 in Bourbon County were barricaded, and the permanent floodgates were closed at the flooded section of K-152 in Linn County.

The sun sets on a flooded section of K-65 in Bourbon County.

Early last week, the U.S. 169 exit ramp from U.S. 54 was closed because of water standing at its base. In addition, KDOT crews flagged traffic through shallow flood waters on U.S. 54 at the U.S. 169/U.S. 54 junction. The town of Erie experienced significant flooding, although U.S. 59 remained open. KDOT crews from Erie and Chanute assisted Neosho County and the City of Erie in flagging and making repairs at the Neosho River levee at Erie.

Flooding at the base of the U.S. 169 on-ramp from
U.S. 54 resulted in a brief closure to traffic.

North east Kansas

The flooding of the Cottonwood river south of Emporia prompted the closure of K-99 last week. 

Several closures occurred as a result of floodwaters in north east Kansas. 

One of the areas affected was near Emporia. Last week's rain lasted approximately three days and resulted in flash flooding in the Dow Creek/Neosho River flood plain just north of the city. This caused KDOT crews to close K-99 between I-35 and 240 Rd. The highway was closed for nearly 24 hours last Tuesday and Wednesday. 

During the same weather period, the Cottonwood River began to rise past flood stage. Last Wednesday, just after opening K-99 north of Emporia, KDOT had to close K-99 south of the. This flood event was slow to recede and the highway was closed approximately two days. 

During the flooding closure, KDOT, Lyon County and KTA officials worked together on a local detour that allowed locals who lived south of town to get to their jobs and home again. This was achieved through signed detours on county roads and over to a temporary gate on the KTA.  The KTA didn't charge users for this temporary detour. KDOT crews manned the closure point on K-99 and gave instructions to vehicles passing in the area. 

Other areas affected by floodwater on the highways:
K-9 and K-87 near Vliets - This area is prone to flooding, as the Black Vermillion and North Fork Black Vermillion rivers converge there.

K-5 closed in Leavenworth County where Sevenmile Creek crosses the highway.  That area also is prone to flooding after heavy (or prolonged) rainfall

K-7 was closed in Doniphan county, north of White Cloud, as the Missouri River rose high enough to cover the surface of the highway.

North central Kansas
A highway outside of Minneapolis is covered in water.
High waters and flooding occurred in parts of north central Kansas on Oct. 9. K-14 in Ellsworth County was closed for eight miles during the day and one mile overnight as water covered the road in several areas. Ellsworth County also experienced flooded roadways on K-111 and traffic was flagged for two hours until roads were drivable. Saline County had a lane closure for a few hours on K-140 due to water over the road at the bridge by mile marker 22.

South central Kansas
Drone Footage of U.S. 81 north of the K-55 Junction in south central Kansas. Photo by KDOT employee, AJ Wilson
Flooding closed several highways in south central Kansas. KDOT crews on the evening of Oct. 8 began flagging U.S. 281 in Barton County from the bridge over Blood Creek to south of the Hoisington city limit. KDOT later closed the road to traffic. U.S. 281 was opened to traffic on Oct. 10.

Crews flagged K-2 from about two miles east of the U.S. 281 junction to just west of Kiowa as well.
Crews began flagging K-14 north and south of the city of Lyons on Tuesday and later closed the highway south of Lyons. K-14 reopened Friday.

In Sumner County, flooding closed U.S. 81 for about a six-mile stretch from the K-55 intersection to the Sumner/Sedgwick county line. Crews also closed K-55 for a 2.5-mile stretch from U.S. 81 to the Belle Plaine city limit. Those roads reopened Friday.

Flood waters over K-55 west of Belle Plaine.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Crack sealing extends pavement life

Example of a crack on K-23 in Gray County that must be sealed to preserve the highway surface

With the arrival of  cooler weather, crack seal projects are underway in south west Kansas.

Pavement Pros, LLC of McPherson begin by routing the crack so that it can be cleaned and sealed.

According to Asphalt magazine, spring, fall and winter are considered the best time for crack sealing projects because the cracks are in “average position” (not completely open or closed) during cooler weather. 

KDOT Engineering Technician, Larry Roberts measures the cracks to be sealed.

Crack sealing is a cost-effective way to maintain roads that are in fair-to-good condition because it prevents water and extraneous materials from entering the crack and causing damage to the underlying pavement structure. 

A Pavement Pros, LLC crew member blows the loose debris and material out of the crack preparing it to be sealed.

In order to get the best results, the crack must be prepared by routing or sawing the crack and then cleaned using high-pressure air to remove loose material. 

A Pavement Pros, LLC crew member applies sealant to the crack.

After the crack is prepared, the sealer can be placed using a hot wand and hose connected to the rubber pot. The material used as the sealer is determined by the type and size of the crack and the environment. 

An added benefit of crack sealing is that the sealant requires a fairly short curing time allowing traffic to return to the treated area almost immediately after the treatment.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Joint Legislative Transportation Vision Task Force – Garden City Meeting

Safety is a Key Component of Transportation – At last Thursday's meeting in Garden City, the Task Force turned its focus to safety.  KDOT provided updates on various safety campaigns targeted at driver and passenger behavior, such as increased seat belt usage. Other ways KDOT works to increase roadway safety includes adding rumble strips to help prevent lane departures and installing roundabouts to reduce serious injuries and crashes. Presentations from the meeting can be found here.

Local Testimony Highlights Need for Safety Improvements – During the public testimony, a variety of stakeholders shared personal stories that showed the importance of improving the safety of our state’s roads. Stakeholders would like to see safety improvements made to K-156 and U.S. 54, as well as the addition of passing lanes on U.S. 83 between Scott City and Garden City. Stakeholders also shared the importance of transportation infrastructure as it plays an integral role in supporting the state’s economy, including transporting agriculture products to markets. 

Task Force Goals and Discussion – Now that the Task Force has completed half of the scheduled meetings, they reviewed and discussed their stated goals, including:  

·         Define transportation needs/priorities
·         Identify how much funding will be required to meet those priorities
·         Identify funding options that can be consistently provided to meet those priorities

No changes were made to the goals and the Task Force has asked for additional discussion and information to be provided on a variety of topics, including:  city and county transportation needs; federal funding; and ways pavement life can be extended.

The next task force meeting will be at Wichita State University on Oct. 18. This meeting will focus on technology, including Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) and autonomous and connected vehicles. More information about future meeting locations and directions on how to provide testimony can be found here.

Aviation, Transit, and Bike/Pedestrian Stakeholder Meetings in Wichita. Before the task force meeting in Wichita, we will hold stakeholder meetings to discuss Aviation, Transit, and Bike/Pedestrian topics from 8:00 – 9:30 a.m. Additional topic-specific stakeholder meetings will be held at future meetings in Hays and Olathe.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Stay alert: Deer, other animals on the move

Mating season and the quest for more secure habitat have deer on the move this time of year, increasing the chances of vehicle collisions.

Typically, the greatest number of deer-vehicle crashes are in mid-November when the rut, or mating season, peaks. In addition to the rut, deer are also on the move in mid-fall seeking new food sources and shelter as crops are harvested and leaves fall from trees and shrubs, leaving them less secure than in their summer habitats.

“The deer population has stabilized over the last six years, so areas that have had deer likely still have them,” said Levi Jaster, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Big Game Coordinator. “This time of year, young animals are dispersing to find new places to live and breeding season is approaching. More animals on the move means more of them will be crossing roads, so be extra cautious in areas with good deer habitat."

According to the Kansas Department of Transportation, 10,226 (17 percent) of the 58,834 vehicle crashes reported in 2017 were deer-related (crashes in which a deer and vehicle actually collided or the presence of a deer was a contributing circumstance). Crashes involving deer occur in every part of the state throughout the year. 

In 2017, Butler County had 438 vehicle-deer crashes, the most of any county, while Sedgwick County followed with 385 vehicle-deer crashes.

“In addition to potentially causing human injuries and loss of life, deer collisions often cause significant vehicle damage that can lead to large expenses for the vehicle owner if not properly insured,” said Jennifer Haugh,

Public and Government Affairs Manager for AAA Kansas. “Of the animal strikes reported by AAA Insurance policy holders in 2017, the average cost per claim was more than $4,500.”

The Kansas Highway Patrol cautions drivers to refrain from making exaggerated maneuvers to avoid a deer in the road, lest a bad situation become even worse.

“If you are unfortunate enough to have a deer enter the highway in front of your car, it is best to hit the animal and not swerve to avoid it,” said the KHP’s Lt. Adam Winters. “Often, we find more serious crashes occur when you swerve to miss the deer, potentially losing control of your vehicle, leaving the road or veering into oncoming traffic.”

The agencies recommend the following to help motorists avoid crashes with deer:
• Be especially watchful at dawn and dusk, when deer are more active.
• If you see one deer, watch for others, as they seldom travel alone.
• Reduce speed and be alert near wooded areas or green spaces, such as parks and golf courses, and
near water sources such as streams and ponds.
• Deer crossing signs show areas where high numbers of vehicle/deer crashes have occurred in the past.
• Use bright lights when there is no oncoming traffic and scan the road ahead of you to watch for deer.
• Don’t swerve to avoid hitting a deer—the most serious crashes sometimes occur when motorists
swerve and collide with another vehicle or run off the road and hit an obstacle.
• Always wear a seat belt and use the appropriately-fitted child safety seats—they are your best defense should you be involved in a crash.
• Honk your horn with one long blast. A long blast on your horn may frighten large animals, such as deer, away from your vehicle. The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) advises against relying on devices such as deer whistles and reflectors, which have not been proven to reduce collisions with animals.

If you do strike a deer, here are some additional tips:

• Slow down, move your vehicle to the shoulder if possible, and call for law enforcement. KHP dispatch can be reached at *47, Kansas Turnpike at *KTA, and local law enforcement at 911. Make sure you tell the dispatcher if the animal or your vehicle is still in the road.
• If you hit a deer or other animal, do not worry about removing the animal. Law enforcement can remove the animal from the road when they arrive. Don’t go near a wounded animal. A frightened and wounded animal can be unpredictable.
• Turn on your hazard lights and remain buckled up inside your vehicle. You are more protected this way, should a secondary crash occur.
• If you must be outside your vehicle, make sure it is as far off the road as possible, and do not stand between your vehicle and another one. Keep children buckled, and in car seats in the vehicle. Be vigilant and watch traffic.

Anyone involved in a vehicle-deer crash resulting in personal injury or property damage that totals $1,000 or more is required to immediately report the crash to the nearest law enforcement agency. Failure to report any traffic crash is a misdemeanor and may result in suspension of driving privileges.

A salvage tag is required to remove a deer carcass, or any part of the carcass, from the crash site. Tags can be issued by KHP troopers, sheriff’s deputies, or KDWPT game wardens. 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Kansas kids win poster/video contests, focus on improving traffic safety

Winners of two Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day statewide contests have been announced as part of the national safety campaign Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day.

For the poster contest – Kaymi Zink of Claflin, Finley Maloney of Kingman and Abigail Coons of Lawrence are the statewide winners. Each student was first selected as a regional winner and will receive a bicycle and a helmet donated by Safe Kids Kansas at presentations at their schools. A total of 836 Kansas kids ages 5 to 13 participated.

As statewide winners in their age categories, they will also receive a Kindle Fire tablet from the Kansas Turnpike Authority, a $50 gift card from the Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association of Kansas, a $50 gift card from Wal-Mart and movie passes from AAA Kansas. 

Abigail Goons, created this poster. She is a student from Lawrence. 

Finley Maloney, created this poster and is a student from Kingman. 

Kaymi Zink created this poster and is a student from Claflin. 

For the video contest – Andrew Marshall Tabb from Shawnee Mission West won first place. He will receive his choice of an iPad, GoPro or Osmo Steadicam along with a $500 donation to the school, class or booster club.

Students from Eudora High School captured second place, and students from Lawrence High School placed third in the video contest. Each will receive one of the remaining prizes listed above. There were 37 entries from teens across the state. To see the winning videos, go to http://bit.ly/2018PTBOF.
Organizations that work together on this safety campaign include the Kansas Department of Transportation, Kansas Turnpike Authority, Kansas Highway Patrol, AAA of Kansas, Kansas Contractors Association, Kansas Family Partnership, Kansas Traffic Safety Resource Office, Federal Highway Administration and the Kansas Society of Professional Engineers.

Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day is a nationwide effort to increase roadway safety and reduce all traffic fatalities. For more information and a list of all the winners across Kansas, go to www.ksdot.org and click on the Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day information.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

FHWA is helping to put the brakes on fatalities with proven safety countermeasures

Brandye Hendrickson
By Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Brandye Hendrickson

At the Federal Highway Administration, a priority is for Kansans to have safe roads. Together with the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) and others, we are committed to eliminating fatalities and serious injuries on the nation’s roadways. This is no small feat, especially when you consider that more than 37,000 lives are lost on U.S. roads each year.

At FHWA, we believe these deaths are not only unacceptable. They are preventable.

One way FHWA is working to get us to zero deaths is by assisting states and localities to employ proven safety countermeasures. After years of testing and research, we now have 20 countermeasures/strategies that can be used to address issues related to roadway departure, intersection and pedestrian and bicycle crashes, including local road safety plans and rumble strips that can be used in Kansas and other parts of the country.

We all have a role to play in making sure our friends, neighbors and loved ones get to their destination safely in Kansas and elsewhere, which is why FHWA works closely with KDOT and others. We also coordinate with our counterparts at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration to develop and implement effective safety programs.

But we also need the help of the traveling public. The safest highway in the world is of little use when drivers are drinking and then getting behind the wheel or texting while driving. The same applies to pedestrians who are distracted while walking, or bicyclists who ignore the rules of the road.

Proven safety countermeasures used by KDOT and other state DOTs can and will continue to make a difference in the years ahead and we’re committed to making them a staple of safety programs across the country. With these techniques, and the help of conscientious drivers, we can put the brakes on fatalities.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Joint Legislative Transportation Vision Task Force – Newton Meeting

Freight and Passenger Rail Stakeholder Meeting – In Newton, we hosted our first stakeholder meeting with a focus on freight and passenger rail. We saw a good turnout as stakeholders heard from industry leaders on the importance of rail in Kansas in terms of both moving people and the economic vitality it helps bring to communities. Presenters also discussed the importance of rail funding programs.  Key takeaways from the discussion were provided during a report given to the task force.

Local Programs and Lockbox Legislation – The Newton meeting focused on the importance of KDOT’s partnerships with local communities in improving local roads as well as lockbox legislation that has been implemented across the country to protect transportation funding. Presentations from the meeting can be found here.

Common Themes Continue During Local Testimony – During local testimony, stakeholders continued to show strong support for finishing T-WORKS projects and improving safety on highways (specifically K-96 in this region).  Stakeholders also voiced support for rail of all kinds in Kansas, notably discussing the importance passenger rail and short line rail.  Public transit was also discussed with an emphasis placed on transit in rural communities and the important role it plays in increasing access to health care and shopping, including groceries, in rural counties.

The next task force meeting will be at Garden City High School on Oct. 11. This meeting will focus on transportation safety. More information about future meeting locations and directions on how to provide testimony can be found here.

Aviation, Transit, and Bike/Pedestrian Stakeholder Meetings in Wichita. The next stakeholder meetings will be held in Wichita on Oct. 18. This meeting will be held from 8:00 – 9:30 a.m. at Wichita State University before the task force meeting begins at 10:00 a.m. 

Additional topic-specific stakeholder meetings will be held at future meetings in Hays and Olathe.

Sleepy and tired are impairments when driving

Ray Savage
By Ray Savage

The date was Feb. 10, 1992, and a cold rain was falling.  I was traveling east on Highway 50 four miles west of Peabody where I resided. 

At the time, Highway 50 had no shoulders and ditches that quickly dropped off to nothing. Although I am missing the next 2.5 days, the police report states that I swerved into the opposite lane because I encountered a vehicle traveling west in my lane. 

The 18-year-old driver from Chicago, who was driving a stolen vehicle, swerved back and we collided head on. The police determined I was traveling 61 mph and the 18-year-old was traveling 73 mph. There were no skid marks. 

After being extracted from my small Mazda truck that took over an hour, I was airlifted to Wesley Medical Center in Wichita. The doctors found that I had gashes in my forehead, elbow and chin that required stitches. The third and fourth vertebrae's in my neck were cracked, my nose was broken and my septum was deviated - injuries that eventually required a separate surgery. My left collar bone was broken, my large intestine was ruptured along with my spleen and appendix, requiring exploratory surgery. Numerous bumps, bruises, cuts and scrapes; and, two months later, they found that my right leg had been broken. 

This horrific accident was caused by an impaired driver. Yet, the toxicology report on the18-year-old driver came back clean. So, how could he have been impaired?  He was sleepy!!  He was tired!! Yes, being sleepy and tired are impairments when driving any type of vehicle. 

The 18-year-old, who was not wearing a seat belt, was killed at the scene when he was thrown through the windshield. Can you imagine his parents getting the news that their son had been killed in an automobile accident in Kansas? They may not have even known he had left the Chicago area. 

I had my seat belt on. Although, it caused my broken collar bone and internal injuries, I have no doubt that it saved my life. Remember, however, that the year was 1992 and seat belts were not required to be worn. I never wore my seat belt and the buckle was under the seat. So how did it get on? I know what I believe - I will, however, let you draw your own conclusion.  

Ray Savage is retired from the Peabody-Burns School District and lives in Peabody.



Monday, October 8, 2018

Texting friends and family can wait

By Karah Bosmeijer
Karah and her husband, Ian.
It was almost the end of my senior year. Five days earlier I had joined the cheerleading team at Garden City Community college, and in two weeks, I would graduate from high school. I had just finished cheer practice and was headed home to Deerfield, a small, rural community on U.S. 50 in southwest Kansas. A list of everything I still needed to do before graduation was running through my head as I passed the U.S. 83 truck stop.
I texted friends and family, asking if they were going to attend my graduation ceremony. As I started to receive their responses, I looked up to see a semi with a flatbed trailer rolling to a stop in front of me, as the driver waited for traffic to clear so he could turn.  At 65 mph, there was little time to hit the brakes. Crashing into the flatbed was just the beginning of one of scariest experiences I have ever encountered. 
The force of the accident was great enough to destroy the front half of the car and shatter every window, but the driver of the semi was oblivious to the crash.  The semi started to turn, dragging me with it. Panicking, I honked my horn and was eventually discovered by the driver. 
There I sat, feeling the heat from the asphalt, sitting next to the rumble strips and holding a towel full of blood to my forehead. I watched as strangers, firefighters, EMT, police officers and friends recognized my car and stopped to help me. Being young and invincible, it took me years to realize how amazingly blessed I am. Thinking about how many people’s lives I put in danger, and how my friends and family could easily be dealing with my thoughtless actions in a much different way is terrifying.
Today, I work for a company that is extremely invested in their safety culture. As I learn and grow every day I am constantly reminded to TAKE TWO. Taking two extra seconds to Stop! Think! Then Act!  The three key principles that are implemented into our daily routine are:

  • Do it safely or not at all.
  • There is always time to do it safely.
  • Care for each other’s health, safety and security.
Ten years have gone by and I continue to be amazed by what life has to offer. I challenge anyone reading this to “Take Two” into your daily life. Take two extra seconds to send that text before you drive. Two extra seconds to buckle your seat belt. Two extra seconds to check that the intersection is clear. Two extra seconds to say I love you to yourself and your loved ones!

Safety. Always. Everywhere.

Karah (Miller) Bosmeijer is the Administrative Coordinator / Division Trainer for Nutrien Ag Solutions in Garden City.


Friday, October 5, 2018

When it clicks: Seat belts save lives

By Dan Zirkle

It was a usual Wednesday morning on Sept. 15, 2010, and I was doing the daily duties of a KDOT inspector. The striping contractor was working on the project the day before, so a coworker and myself were measuring the striping for pavement. When we finished measuring the striping it was almost time for lunch, so we decided to head back to the construction lab. Just as we started back to the lab it started to drizzle.
We were heading south on the U.S. 59 highway project south of Lawrence when we merged onto the shoo-fly lane that moved traffic around the construction. On the south end of the shoo-fly a northbound car crossed the double yellow line and hit our truck head on. The car took most of the force from the collision.
A total of three motorists were part of the accident, the driver of the Nissan Sentra who crossed the double yellow lines, my coworker and myself. The driver of the Sentra was transported to a Topeka hospital and then transferred to KU Medical Center. My co-worker and myself were very lucky that day and only received minor injuries. My coworker was transported to and released from Lawrence Memorial Hospital and I was transferred to KU Medical Center with a dislocated and fractured left mid-foot that put me out of work for six months.
Everyone involved was wearing seat belts, though everyone was injured, it could have been a lot worse. I always wore my seat belt before the crash and now after, it’s absolutely a necessity.
What seems to start out as any normal day may not end that way, as that Wednesday in September for me. I feel fortunate that I can tell my story and that my wife and kids still have their husband and father. Safety is the responsibility of every person on the roadways and is the one thing that keeps them from having a life-changing event.
The following is a quote from William M. Jeffers, former President of Union Pacific Railroad Co. (1946); “Safety applies with equal force to the individual, to the family, to the employer, to the state, the nation and to international affairs.  Safety, in its widest sense, concerns the happiness, contentment and freedom of mankind.
Dan Zirkle is an Engineering Technician Senior in KDOT’s Bureau of Construction and Materials.




Thursday, October 4, 2018

Better to arrive safely than not at all

Travis Harries
By Travis Harries

As an over the road driver I see all kinds of things that make me scratch my head. Mostly I observe people in a hurry that take unnecessary risks. My biggest question a lot of the time is, what’s the hurry? If I ever had the opportunity, I would ask them, “Wouldn’t you rather be a minute or two late than to not get there at all?”

I’ve been driving a truck for over 24 years. A lot has changed in the industry, that is for sure. And yes, I’ve probably done a few unsafe things in the past. I’ve learned through the many years on the road that sometimes going a little slower might just be the faster option. In my travels each week, I am traveling every type of road suitable for transportation. 

Personally, I rather stay on two-lane highways that go through the more remote parts of the country. Keeping in mind that my truck is governed at 65 mph, I am more often than not, a rolling speed bump. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had to slam on the brakes, because someone was in a hurry to pass in an area that wasn’t safe to do so or where there was oncoming traffic. Because of our better view point, we can see much further than a personal vehicle, which makes watching these drivers pass in dangerous area more concerning.

Is your hurry or rush to get somewhere worth the risk of your life or someone else’s? Remember you are not only putting yourself at risk, you are putting all motorists at risk too. My end goal every week is to be as safe as I can and keep those around me safe, even if they aren’t of the same safety mindset as me, so I can get home to my family.

My wife and kids will often give me a hard time about some of my decisions while just driving around town. My explanation is always that it wasn’t worth the risk to do that, what’s the hurry? I know they aren’t serious about the ribbing, it’s just how I am. Safety has become somewhat of a lifestyle for me when I travel. That oncoming car might be headed to church or a ballgame or program at school. So, I must ask again, is your hurry worth it?

If I had any words of advice, I would just simply say to slow it down a bit. Be patient in your travels. Avoid the distractions as best you can. Don’t take those unnecessary risks. We all have the same goals when it comes down to it.  Always better to arrive safely at our destination than not at all.

Travis Harries is with Walmart Transportation and nominated for Kansas Road Team for KMCA 2018-2020.