Thursday, October 31, 2019

Frightening Fiction: Distracted Nightmares





By Mallory Goeke
Communications Specialist
KDOT HQ


On Halloween night, the glow of a smartphone shone through the window of a fiery red sedan as it raced down the highway. The mindless chatter of friends as they listen to their favorite band and play air guitar in unison filled the car’s cabin.  

“I love this song!” Melissa screamed over the music while she sent a quick text and slid her phone back in her pocket and returned her hands to the wheel. The teenager was relishing in her newfound freedom.  Just days before she had received her first car, along with permission to drive it to the big Halloween party at school. Melissa’s outfit was what she wore every Friday, a cheerleading outfit, but her make up was smeared and her hair was tousled. She was a zombie-fighting cheerleader. She couldn’t wait to show off her new look, even if it meant texting while driving. 
“I can’t believe you just did that!” Her best friend, Lidia laughed. “If I did that, my parents would take my keys and phone away for sure.” Lidia’s costume of choice was an art student who used her tools to fight the aforementioned zombies.

“That’s because your parents worry too much,” Kyle leaned forward from the back seat and turned up the music even louder. “Melissa totally knows what she is doing.” Kyle was dressed up as one of the zombies the dynamic duo would have been fighting.

“Yah, see? I’m paying attention now. No harm done.” Melissa replied, but then reached down and picked up her phone again when she felt the familiar buzz. “I just need to post that I’m driving in my new car real quick! Lidia, take the wheel.”
Lidia bit her lip nervously, this sounded like a really bad idea, but what could she say? Her friends would totally make fun of her. She reached over and held the steering wheel while Melissa snapped a selfie.

Suddenly, a shadowy figure with glowing eyes leapt onto the road in front of them. Lidia screamed and turn the wheel sharply. Melissa jumped and stomped her foot on the brakes while her phone flew into the backseat. Kyle’s forehead stopped the phone from flying out the windows. He gasped in pain and held his hand over his eyes.
The passenger side tires hit loose gravel and the car slid down the ditch and launched into the air.

Melissa remembers rolling five times. Lidia lost count and Kyle hardly remembered anything from that night.

While they may have survived the crash, they didn’t make it to their Halloween party. Melissa never used her phone while driving again. Lidia learned to speak up for herself, and Kyle learned to keep his mouth shut and listen to reason.

While this story may be a work of fiction, the scary part is that scenario can happen every single day.

No one should be driving distracted, anything can happen. Are you willing to take the risk?
Don’t drive scary.

The End.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Trick or treat: Safety tips for all the ghouls and monsters


Tomorrow, trick-or-treaters across the country will take to the streets to collect the sugary sweets Here are some safety tips to help everyone have a frightfully good time and stay safe.

Drivers:
  • 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.

We hope you have a happy Halloween! 

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

KDOT announces projects selected under Local Bridge Improvement Program




Twenty-seven counties will receive a combined total of $5 million under the Kansas Department of Transportation’s Local Bridge Improvement Program. Requests for transportation funding outpaced available funds by nearly three times. The selection of the local bridge projects was announced today by KDOT Secretary Julie Lorenz.

“Improving the overall transportation system in our state is important and that includes those structures under local authority,” said Transportation Secretary Julie Lorenz. “It takes partnerships between the state, cities and counties to move people and goods as efficiently as possible across Kansas.”

The bridge program was reinstated by the agency this summer to assist cities and counties by providing up to $150,000 toward the replacement or rehabilitation of a bridge on the local roadway system. In the FY 2020 budget, $166 million less will be transferred out of the State Highway Fund. This funding will allow KDOT to perform about $400 million in preservation projects, deliver five more delayed T-WORKS projects and enabled KDOT to reactivate the Local Bridge Improvement Program.
A total of 86 applications from 70 local public agencies were received with requests for $14.2 million in funds. Some agencies submitted more than one application for the program. The total value of the individual bridge request repairs ranged from $150,000 to $800,000.

“We clearly have pent up demand for transportation investments,” Secretary Lorenz said. “If state government can continue to keep its expenses and revenues aligned, we intend to fund this program on an on-going basis.”

This program targets bridges that are 20 – 50 feet in length and a daily vehicle count of less than 100.  Deficient structures, which are longer and deficient structures on higher volume roads, also qualify for funding under the program, but these will be limited to the same state funding amounts.

There are approximately 19,000 bridges on Kansas’ local road systems. About 20 percent – or 3,800 -- of those bridges are in poor condition – or unable to meet today’s weight and vehicle requirements.

The list of counties receiving funding is below. Those with an asterisk indicate counties that also chose to close a second deficient bridge in order to receive an additional $50,000.


Atchison County
Butler County
Cherokee County
Comanche County *
Decatur County *
Doniphan County *
Geary County
Gove County
Greenwood County *
Marshall County *
Meade County *
Montgomery County
Osage County *
Phillips County *
Pottawatomie County *
Rawlins County *
Reno County *
Republic County *
Rice County *
Riley County
Russell County *
Sedgwick County
Smith County *
Stafford County *
Trego County *
Wabaunsee County *
Woodson County




Monday, October 28, 2019

Looking out for co-worker makes vital difference


Kenny Roach and Jason Baze's quick thinking helped save their co-worker's life.
By Tim Potter:
South Central Kansas
Public Affairs Manager 

The task seemed to go so smoothly, so routinely. It was Sept. 30, and three KDOT co-workers gathered tree limbs along K-4 only about a mile from Hoisington.

That proximity to the town -- and its hospital -- would be crucial.

The whole experience would show the importance of watching out for a co-worker, of not hesitating in a potential health emergency.

The tree-limb removal had taken the three men only about five minutes. But as they finished, one of the three said something that drew the others’ attention -- “I feel hot.” Which was a sign of trouble because it wasn’t too hot or humid, and the man was known for being energetic. But now he was having to rest by the work truck after a relatively easy task.

“We looked at him, and something’s not right here,” Kenney Roach remembered thinking of his co-worker. With the suddenly ill man that day were Roach, an Equipment Operator, and Jason Baze, an Equipment Operator Senior.

“It was pretty out-of-the-ordinary for him,” Baze recalled.

Baze thought they were going to have to force the man to head for help in Hoisington, but they all quickly decided to go.

Baze directed his ill co-worker into the passenger seat up front in the extended cab, where it was roomy, accessible and where AC vents would give relief. Roach drove them on the short trip to the hospital in Hoisington, straight to the emergency room. Baze and Roach walked on either side of the man, ready to catch him if he started to collapse. (For privacy reasons, this article is not naming the man or detailing his condition.)

The two co-workers told a nurse about the man’s symptoms. “And they took him right into the room,” Baze said.

Baze and Roach would learn that it was critical that they wasted no time going to the hospital. Later, the man was taken by air ambulance to a Wichita hospital. He is recovering at home.

Baze and Roach have received regular first aid training from KDOT. Part of the training instills the idea that it’s better to seek help and not end up needing it than to wait too long, Baze said.

The training “kicks in when we need it,” said Michelle Burnett, Area Engineer in Great Bend.
Thinking back, Baze, Roach and Burnett said, it was a good thing the man wasn’t working alone that day.

“I feel like they saved his life,” she said.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

KDOT invites stakeholders to discuss transportation priorities at upcoming Local Consult meetings




A second series of Local Consult meetings hosted by the Kansas Department of Transportation will give citizens a chance to discuss regional transportation priorities and continue shaping FORWARD, the State’s next 10-year transportation program.

“Kansans are ready for the next transportation program to improve safety and grow our economy,” Secretary of Transportation, Julie Lorenz said. “We heard from more than 1,100 Kansans across the State who talked about the importance of completing T-WORKS projects, improving highways and making transit, aviation and rail work better. Now, as promised, we are coming back out for a second round of meetings to discuss specific transportation priorities in each region.”

All meetings will include an opening presentation and use facilitated breakout groups to:
  • Discuss transportation assets and needs at a regional level and gather feedback on priorities among KDOT’s various programs;

  • Share draft engineering and economic scores for highway modernization and expansion projects and gather feedback on those scores;

  • Discuss which highway modernization and expansion projects are regional priorities.

The meetings all will have a similar format, but the content will be specific to the region. KDOT encourages people to attend the meeting within the KDOT district where their community is located.
The Local Consult meetings are scheduled to take place in October and November in Pittsburg, Junction City, Topeka, Kansas City, Wichita, Great Bend, Liberal and Colby. A list of the dates, times and locations are below.
If possible, please contact Mike Moriarty, KDOT Chief of Transportation Planning, at 785-296-8864 or Michael.Moriarty@ks.gov to let us know which meeting you plan to attend.
Southeast Region - Pittsburg
Tuesday, Oct. 29
1:30-4:30 p.m.
Pittsburg State University
Overman Student Center
302 E. Cleveland
Pittsburg, KS 66762

North Central Region - Junction City
Wednesday, Oct. 30
1:30-4:30 p.m.
Geary County Convention Center
at the Courtyard Marriott
310 Hammons Dr.
Junction City, KS 66441

Northeast Region - Topeka
Tuesday, Nov. 5
1:30-4:30 p.m.
Capital Plaza Hotel
Maner Conference Center
1717 SW Topeka Blvd.
Topeka, KS 66612

Kansas City Metro Region - Kansas City 
Wednesday, Nov. 6
9 a.m.-noon
The Reardon Convention Center
at the Hilton Garden Inn
520 Minnesota Ave.
Kansas City, KS 66101
Wichita Metro Area - Wichita
Friday, Nov. 15
9 a.m.-noon
Century II Performing Arts and Convention Center
225 West Douglas
Wichita, KS 67202

South Central Region - Great Bend
Monday, Nov. 18
1:30-4:30 p.m.
Great Bend Events Center
3111 10th St.
Great Bend, KS 67530

Southwest Region - Liberal
Tuesday, Nov. 19
1:30-4:30 p.m.
Seward County Community College
Student Wellness Building
1801 North Kansas Ave.
Liberal, KS 67901

Northwest Region - Colby
Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019
1:30-4:30 p.m.
City Limits Convention Center
2227 South Range Ave.
Colby, KS 67701

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

#IAMKDOT: Robyn Daniels


By Priscilla Petersen
Southeast Kansas 
Public Affairs Manager,
Illustration by Mallory Goeke 


When she’s not administering contracts and coordinating staff at the Independence office, Robyn Daniels can be found checking the progress on construction projects and visiting with KDOT inspectors throughout Montgomery, Wilson, Elk and Chautauqua counties.

Daniels is the Engineering Technician Specialist for the Independence Construction office. She began her KDOT career of over 30 years – 31 this May – as an Office Assistant at Independence. She continued her path forward by promoting through the construction ranks as an Engineering Technician and Engineering Technician Senior before being selected as the Specialist several years ago.

Daniels was among the KDOT employees who developed and constructed 11 miles of new roadway for U.S. 400 through Wilson and Montgomery counties during the 1990s. She remembers how different it was back then as construction personnel traveled from place to place along the new highway corridor.

“Every part of the work zone was torn up,” she recalled. “We had only hand-held radios - it was hard to track down other people on the project.”

Another great change that she has experienced through the years has been in the progress of office paperwork - the transition from using carbon paper to making multiple copies of change orders to a much more streamlined electronic systems for contract administration and record keeping.

She and her husband, Terry, live in Independence. The couple has three daughters. In her free time Daniels and her family enjoy camping and boating at Elk City Lake.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

KDOT’s new Cost Share Program in high demand



With nearly 100 applications in the first round, the new Cost Share Program from the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) is off to a strong start.

In total, KDOT received 92 applications with more than $92 million in local investment. In return, the applications requested nearly $242 million from KDOT funds.

“While we knew there’s pent up demand for transportation investment, we’re overwhelmed with the level of interest this new program is garnering,” said Lindsey Douglas, Deputy Secretary of Policy and Fiscal Affairs.

Announcements for selected projects are slated for the end of this month.
“The new program demonstrates the importance of combining state and local funds to address transportation needs across Kansas,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “While we won’t be able to approve all applications representing requests totaling more than a quarter of a billion dollars, the high interest proves it’s time to develop a new transportation plan for the state.”
The Cost Share Program is designed to provide financial assistance that leverages state funding with local and private funding for projects related to job growth and retention. It will provide funding to local entities for construction projects that improve safety, increase the total transportation investment and help both rural and urban areas of the state improve their transportation system.

Entities, typically administered by a local unit of government, are required to put forward a minimum of 15% non-state cash match with additional consideration given to project applications that commit more than the minimum required match amount. A minimum 25% match is required for projects to qualify for the one-time $50 million approved this fiscal year by the Legislature and Gov. Laura Kelly.

All transportation projects are eligible, including roadway (on and off the state system), rail, airport, bicycle/pedestrian and public transit. They must be construction projects that address an important transportation need such as promoting safety, improving access or mobility, improving condition or relieving congestion.

Applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis and will be reviewed twice per year, in October and March. Selection criteria will include consideration of projects that meet program objectives, eligibility categories and requirements. Geographic distribution will also be considered during project selection.
Application and a fact sheet on the Cost Share Program can be found at www.KSDot.org or with the links below:

Monday, October 21, 2019

Rules of the road: National Teen Driver Safety Week



By Lisa Knoll
Southwest Kansas
Public Affairs Manager 
This week is National Teen Driver Safety Week, an important week dedicated to helping teens become better safer drivers.

Parents spend years protecting their children and supporting them as they grow, holding their hand as they take their first steps, watching anxiously as they head off to their first day of school and even giving advice when the first crush hits.  Then comes that magical age — 14. 

That’s the age when teens in Kansas can get their learner’s permit and begin learning to drive.  For teens, this marks the beginning of their transition to adulthood and independence.  For parents, this marks the beginning of what can easily be one of the most difficult, worrisome times of their child’s adolescence.

As parents, it’s tempting to try to “scare them safe” with frightening statistics about teen drivers, accidents and fatalities.  However, according to teendriversource.org, scare tactics rarely work.  In fact, scare tactics may overwhelm teens causing them to shut down completely. 

Instead, teendriversource.org suggests the best way to change behavior over time is with messaging that promotes positive action.  They recommend using this week to start the conversation with teens about safe driving. 

This week – and every week, parents should have conversations with their teens about the Rules for the Road which are:

1.       No cell phones when driving
2.       No speeding
3.       No drowsy driving
4.       No alcohol
5.       No extra passengers
6.       Always buckle up

These rules address the five greatest dangers for teen drivers which are alcohol, inconsistent or no seat belt use, distracted and drowsy driving, speeding and number of passengers in the car, says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). 
In addition to establishing rules and discussing expectations, NHTSA encourages parents to set the standard by modeling safe habits when driving, set the ground rules and consequences and put them in writing. Continue to monitor teen driving until they develop the experience to drive safely.  

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Kansas Bicycle Map Photo Contest now underway



Kansas is home to many incredible views and opportunities to see some of the greatest sunsets in the world, but have you ever seen Kansas up close while riding a bike? If you have or if you plan to in the near future, we want to see what you see when you travel Kansas on two wheels! Our first Kansas Bicycle Photo contest is currently underway, and we need to hear from you!

Comprehensive Transportation Planning Manager Matthew Messina said that the best thing about biking in Kansas is that the state has plenty to offer, whether you’re a commuter, a recreational rider or even a racer.

Kansas has a wide range of terrain and scenic landscapes that help make biking fun and enjoyable every time you ride,” Messina said.

KDOT’s Bureau of Transportation Planning is responsible for producing the State Transportation maps, including the Kansas Bicycle Map.

“The current issue of the Kansas Bicycle Map is for 2018-2019, which means an updated version will become available in Spring 2020 for 2020-2021—and this map needs a new cover” Messina said. 

 “We wanted to open the opportunity to Kansans to submit their favorite photos of biking in our great state and to be featured on our widely distributed map. For example, KDOT has distributed nearly 25,000 copies of the 2018-2019 Kansas Bicycle Map to 24 states—that’s pretty solid publicity.”

The contest is open to Kansans of all ages and abilities, from all walks of life who enjoy biking or taking photos of bicyclists. KDOT is looking for any photo that captures the spirit, fun and adventure of biking in Kansas. Any Kansas resident is eligible to enter if they complete the waiver and release forms that are part of the electronic submission process.

Participants in the contest can enter by visiting https://kdotapp.ksdot.org/BPC/ and uploading up to two photos per contestant. Entries are due by Nov. 1.

Want to learn more about biking in Kansas?

KDOT provides a lot of information related to biking on its “Walking and Bicycling in Kansas” webpage: http://www.ksdot.org/burRail/bike/default.asp

And since biking is major tourism attraction, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism has a lot of information related to cycling activities around the state on their cycling webpage:
https://www.travelks.com/things-to-do/sports-recreation/cycling/

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

KanDrive improvements will help motorists receive road condition information



Numerous improvements have been made to the Kansas Department of Transportation’s KanDrive website that provides motorists continuously updated conditions of highways across the state.

“The website received more than 2 million views last winter,” said Alan Spicer, Assistant Bureau Chief in Transportation Planning. “It’s important to keep the traveling public notified of current and changing road conditions so they can make informed travel decisions.”

The main page at www.KanDrive.org has been streamlined to make it easier to begin viewing details. Just click on the map to open the tabs at the top of the page, which have been expanded. The first tab, Travel Alerts, gives a comprehensive list of incident closures, road work closures and weather closures.

The other tabs allow motorists to view several maps and include –


Incidents/weather – shows road incidents, flooding, fog, blowing dust, law enforcement;


Winter conditions – this map becomes the main map on the website if any highways are affected by snow or ice;



Construction – shows that are planned, active and have closed a section of highway. Also, people can click on the map location for details on the project, and an estimated start date has been added;


Cameras/signs – shows images and live feeds at certain locations and signs with messages;



Truck parking – shows locations and availability of parking spots for truck drivers.



This information is also available on mobile devices. A map icon has been added to the top of the mobile website to assist users in opening the page.




“Helping motorists receive a variety of information before beginning their journey will give them the knowledge needed to plan their routes or even delay their start time to when the situation improves,” Spicer said. “Being informed of road conditions is an important tool to have when making travel choices.”


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

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



Von Woleslagel of Hutchinson's poster was a statewide winner in the 11-13 year-old age group.  

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

For the poster contest – Quincy Coup of Hope, Emma Kuhlman of Topeka and Von Woleslagel of Hutchinson are the statewide winners. Each student was selected as a regional winner and will receive a bicycle donated by the Kansas Turnpike Authority and a helmet donated by Safe Kids Kansas at presentations at their schools. A total of 434 Kansas kids ages 5 to 13 participated.

Emma Kuhlman of Topeka, was the statewide winner in the 8-10 year-old age group. 
As statewide winners in their age categories, they will also receive a Kindle Fire tablet from the KTA, a $50 gift card from the Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association of Kansas and movie passes from AAA Kansas along with a $200 donation to the school, class or booster club. 

Quincy Coup of Hope's poster won in the 5-7 year-old age group. 


For the video contest – Students from Lansing High School won first place. They will receive first choice of an iPad, GoPro or DJI Osmo Pocket along with a $500 donation to the school, class or booster club, donated by the KTA.

Students from Eudora captured second place, and students from Shawnee Mission West High School placed third in the video contest. Each will receive one of the remaining prizes listed above. There were 35 entries from teens across the state. To see the winning videos, go to https://bit.ly/2ANyoHk


Organizations that work together on this safety campaign include the Kansas Department of Transportation, Kansas Turnpike Authority, Kansas Highway Patrol, Kansas Traffic Safety Resource Office, AAA of Kansas, Kansas Contractors Association and the Federal Highway Administration – Kansas division.

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.

Monday, October 14, 2019

From highways to quilts: KDOT employee uses engineering skills to design and create

Joyce Muhlenbruch meets with customers at her quilt shop, Birds of a Feather in Dodge City.
By Lisa Knoll,
Southwest Kansas 
Public Affairs Manager

Joyce Muhlenbruch, KDOT’s Area Construction Engineer in Dodge City, was recently featured in the Dodge City Daily Globe, but it wasn’t for her ability to highway engineering skills  It was for her ability and talent for designing and engineering breathtaking quilts.

Muhlenbruch says there were always quilting and sewing projects in their home when she was growing up in Hanoverton, Ohio.  She learned to sew by the time she was five and was quilting with the church ladies by the time she was in middle school. 

However, she didn’t make her first quilt until she was expecting her first child.  She decided to make a Raggedy Ann and Andy quilt with a denim back, which she hand-pieced and quilted herself. 
“I wanted to give him a gift that was part of me.  That denim was so hard to quilt.  My fingers hurt,” she remembers. 


When her second son was born five weeks early, she had to hand tie his quilt to finish it for him.  Muhlenbruch continued quilting as her boys grew up, primarily making baby quilts for friends, but always found herself changing or adding something to the pattern to make it uniquely hers. 

A quilt designed by Mulenbruch is
on display.
In 2010, Muhlenbruch accepted her current position at KDOT and moved to Dodge City.  Her boys had grown up and her husband, Michael remained in Winfield for two years wrapping up business.  With time on her hands, Muhlenbruch spent evenings at the sewing machine in her Dodge City apartment.  She joined Miss Kitty’s Quilt Guild and eventually began spending her Saturdays helping at Country Quiltin’ By Design, a quilt shop, in Plains.  When the opportunity to buy the shop became a possibility, Muhlenbruch and her sister, Leslie, began to consider how this could work, eventually buying and moving the shop to Dodge City.

Now located at Eryn’s Downtown Center at 509 N. 2nd Ave. in historic Dodge City, the shop has been re-named Birds of a Feather Quilt Shop and is home to over 800 bolts of high-quality cotton fabric, thread, notion, patterns and a longarm quilting machine. 

 The shop also features quilts for sale and plenty of room for quilting classes and retreats.  An inviting seating area overlooks Second Avenue, offering customers a comfortable place to sit and contemplate the next quilt or just share tips and tricks.

Muhlenbruch stands in front of her storefront in Dodge City.


Leslie handles the store during the week while Muhlenbruch is busy with her KDOT job.  Muhlenbruch joins Leslie in the evenings and on the weekends and can usually be found at the longarm machine working on customers’ projects. As the only Quilts of Valor shop in Dodge City, Muhlenbruch hopes to be able to make one Quilt of Valor quilt each month.
Muhlenbruch says, “The best part of quilting is the engineering of the quilt. It’s more fun than engineering roads.  I get to use my creativity to adapt and design patterns.”

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Three lives lost because of not wearing seat belts


By Kay Hendrix

Kay Hendrix and her son.
It was November 27, 2002, during Thanksgiving weekend. I was seven months pregnant with my son, and I lost a very dear friend. Not only did I lose her, but we also lost her mother and her middle son. All of them perished while traveling to Phoenix, AZ, to visit her youngest son. 
While still in Kansas, they failed to stop at an intersection and were hit by an anhydrous ammonia truck and never made it out of the state. All three were gone so suddenly, breaking my heart and our close-knit community into a billion pieces. She was the closest thing that I had to an older sister, she was a great listener and a wonderful friend that I still miss dearly to this day.
The accident cost all three of them their lives, because none of them were wearing their seat belts. The crash threw all them from the vehicle and mangled their bodies to the point that they were unrecognizable, resulting in closed casket funerals. 
When the family found out, they were afraid of telling me … I was so far along in an already touchy pregnancy, they thought that I might lose the baby. I don’t honestly remember a lot about the days that followed other than the great sense of loss and sadness that I felt. 
The following weeks were a blur, but then my son arrived, which brought another round of sadness. She wasn’t there to celebrate his birth, listen to my concerns or even guide me through being a first-time mother. In the months that followed, I realized that I felt her presence with me every day…especially every time I got into the car. I was almost able to hear her say, “put your seat belt on, didn’t you learn from me?”
It is because of that accident and the loss of her and her family that pushed me into the work I do. I believe very strongly that promoting safety in the motor vehicle industry allows me to reach people and hopefully make a difference. 
If one more person understands how important safety on the highways is, that is one more person making it home to their family and friends. One more person that doesn’t have to feel the heartache of losing someone so tragically. 

Kay Hendrix is the Director of Safety for the Kansas Motor Carriers Association.