Posts tagged with Transportation

Highway Patrol reports no fatalities in traffic accidents over holiday weekend

With no fatalities from traffic accidents, the Kansas Highway Patrol is declaring that the Christmas holiday weekend was a fairly safe one.

In 2010, two people died during the holiday travel weekend. But there were no such incidents on Kansas highways between Dec. 23 and Dec. 26 of this year.

There also were fewer speeding tickets and warnings issued. Fewer people were ticketed or warned for failing to wear seat belts. And the number of motorist assists dropped.

The number of DUI-related crashes stayed the same as last year at three. And more people were arrested for DUIs this year — 22 in all.

Lt. Joshua Kellerman of the Kansas Highway Patrol said the snow that fell on much of the western half of the state early last week kept many people off the roads. And the bad roads made it harder for laws to be enforced.

But by Christmas Day, the state’s roads were cleared, Kellerman said.

“It is always great no matter what weekend,” Kellerman said of the zero fatalities. “But over Christmas, which is a time for family, it is even better.”

As for the upcoming holiday weekend, Kellerman said to expect to see more troopers out. And several areas in the state will have saturation patrols.

His advice is for people who have been drinking to find a sober driver for the ride home and for everyone to wear seat belts.

“It’s the best protection if you are involved in a crash,” he said.

By Christine Metz

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5 Questions: Seasonal Travel

Q: What should drivers remember about driving in bad winter weather?

A: Some of the most important things to remember when traveling in adverse conditions are to slow down, turn off your cruise control, turn your headlights on and dress appropriately for the conditions.

Q: How should I get my vehicle ready for the winter?

A: Prepare your vehicle for winter travel by replacing wiper blades, ensuring tires have good tread and air pressure, and by checking the vehicle’s fluids, exhaust system and other mechanical equipment. You also may want to consider adding a shovel to your trunk, weight such as sand bags in the bed of a pickup (to help with traction and control) and carrying a sand/salt mixture in your trunk to help melt the snow and gain traction.

Q: Any advice on emergency kits?

A: The vehicle should also be stocked with items that would be beneficial if you were involved in a crash or your vehicle became stuck: bottled water, blankets, nonperishable food items, a first-aid kit and a flashlight with extra batteries.

Q: My father always told me to keep my gasoline tank full in the winter. Was he right?

A: You should try to keep your gas tank full. This adds additional weight for traction in adverse conditions and lessens the possibility of running out of fuel if you became stuck.

Q: If roads are slick or snowy, what advice do you suggest?

A: Accelerate and brake gently, and increase following distance between you and other vehicles. Be particularly cautious on bridges, and in curves, as they are often the slicker parts of the road. Steer in the direction you want to go if your vehicle loses traction and begins to slide.

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Get your vehicle ready for winter

If your winter plans include snow, ice and bitter cold, winterizing your vehicle can save time, money and stress.

Step 1: Cold weather thickens engine oil, making it difficult to properly lubricate the vehicle’s motor. Check the owner’s manual to see whether a lower-viscosity oil is recommended during winter months. If so, drain the oil and replace it with a lighter weight motor oil.

Step 2: Check the air pressure in each tire. For every 10-degree drop in temperature, tires lose 1 psi of pressure. Maintaining proper air pressure optimizes tire traction and decreases wear and tear on the tire’s treads.

Step 3: Replace worn windshield wiper blades with heavy-duty blades rated for snow and ice.

Step 4: Fill the windshield washer fluid reservoir with de-icing or low-temperature washer fluid. Choose a fluid labeled for subzero temperatures to improve visibility on icy cold days.

Step 5: Check the battery connections and clean away any corrosion with baking soda and a tooth brush. If the battery is more than 3 years old, have a mechanic load test it to determine whether the battery should be replaced.

Step 6: Use a bulb-type antifreeze tester to check the coolant mixture in the radiator. A proper 50/50 water and antifreeze mix should protect the engine from freezing at temperatures as low as minus 40.

Step 7: Check belts and hoses for cracks and wear spots. Tighten up any loose hose clamps and replace any belt or hose that looks worn or damaged.

Step 8: Outfit the vehicle with a set of jumper cables, a blanket, a good snowbrush with an ice scraper, gloves, a flashlight, a folding shovel and a tool box. Add a 12v air compressor for inflating tires, a tow rope and a first aid kit for additional safety. A bag of sand and a can of spray de-icer could come in handy, too.

Step 9: Keep the gas tank at least half full throughout the winter months to reduce the chance of a gas-line freeze. Adding an occasional bottle of gas-line antifreeze, such as Heet, will help, too.

Step 10: Stay home when bad weather is predicted, but if you must leave, drive slowly, pump your brakes when stopping, and, if you begin to slide, turn the wheel into the slide to straighten up the vehicle.

By Linda Cottin

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5 Questions: Holiday Travel

Dean Headley, Airline Quality Rating co-author and marketing professor at Wichita State University, talks about air travel during the upcoming holidays.

Q: What’s the forecast for air travel going into the holiday travel season?

A: Air travel will cost more, but if you can find a seat, it may be operating better.

Q: Are ticket prices that much higher compared to years past?

A: Tickets may appear to be reasonable to slightly higher, but when the fees hit you, you truly feel that the overall cost of travel has gone up. Maybe a year ago the average price was $350, but with $75 in fees, that ticket seems noticeably more expensive.

Q: What airlines have the best Air Quality Rating?

A: Hawaiian was best in on-time performance. Jet Blue was best in avoiding denied boardings. Air Tran was best in baggage handling. Southwest had the lowest rate of customer complaints.

Q: What were the worst?

A: Comair had the worst on-time performance. American Eagle had the worst rate of denied boardings. American Eagle also had the highest rate of mishandled baggage. Delta had the highest rate of customer complaints.

Q: What advice do you give to people who want to fly during the holidays?

A: The best bet for the consumer is to travel as early before the actual holiday or as late as possible afterward, and always leave room for schedule changes.

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KCKCC class will teach safe driving

A four-hour defensive driving class will be offered Saturday, Nov. 12, at Kansas City Kansas Community College.

A comprehensive driver-improvement program without any in-car instruction, the class will be from 8 a.m. to noon in the Continuing Education Building on the east side of the KCKCC campus.

The course is approved by the state of Kansas so insurance rates can be reduced by 5 percent or more upon completion of the class. The cost is $40. To enroll, call 913-288-7660; go to the Community Education Building, 7250 State Ave.; or visit kckcc.edu and click on Continuing Education and Schedule.

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KCKCC class will teach safe driving

A four-hour defensive driving class will be offered Saturday, Nov. 12, at Kansas City Kansas Community College.

A comprehensive driver-improvement program without any in-car instruction, the class will be from 8 a.m. to noon in the Continuing Education Building on the east side of the KCKCC campus.

The course is approved by the state of Kansas so insurance rates can be reduced by 5 percent or more upon completion of the class. The cost is $40. To enroll, call 913-288-7660; go to the Community Education Building, 7250 State Ave.; or visit kckcc.edu and click on Continuing Education and Schedule.

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KDOT approves cable median barriers for two stretches of K-10

The Kansas Department of Transportation will install cable median barriers along two 2-mile stretches of Kansas Highway 10 east of Lawrence, including a section where 5-year-old Cainan Shutt of Eudora died in April.

On Wednesday morning, KDOT Deputy Secretary Jerry Younger announced the $800,000 project likely to begin next summer in Eudora. The decision was made after a committee of local stakeholders had met with state officials for months to discuss the highway’s safety east of Lawrence in the wake of the April 16 double fatality near Eudora.

“That committee helped get us to a point that makes sense,” Younger said, “to take some actions that make sense.”

Cainan’s grandmother, committee member Carrie Lawrence of Overland Park, sat in the audience at the Eudora Community Center and pumped her fist as her eyes teared up when Younger announced plans for the project. She also clutched her daughter, Alison Shutt, the mother of Cainan and Courtlynn Shutt, 2, who suffered a spinal fracture in the crash.

Ryan Pittman, 24, also died when his vehicle crossed the median and struck head-on the minivan the children’s stepgrandfather, Danny Basel, was driving. Basel and his wife, Ann, were also injured.

Alison Shutt and hundreds of people had formed a group, “Cables for Cainan,” in the wake of the crash, and urged the state to install the cable barriers to help prevent cross-median crashes. K-10 is a busy commuter highway between Lawrence and suburban Kansas City.

“We’re very happy with today’s steps,” Shutt said. “I do think it’s just the beginning because, of course, I believe the whole highway needs to have cables, but I think this was a great step. And I’m happy that this went forward today.”

KDOT formed the local committee of Douglas County and Johnson County officials and residents after Eudora Mayor Scott Hopson wrote a letter to Gov. Sam Brownback following the April crash asking Brownback to direct KDOT to install cable along the median from the eastern edge of Lawrence to 23 miles east at Interstate 435 in Johnson County.

Exchanges were often tense after the crash, but Shutt and Hopson both indicated they were happy with the state’s decision Wednesday. Younger said the process of involving local stakeholders helped immensely.

“This is something that everyone in this community thought that it was kind of like David and Goliath. We were going up against the state of Kansas,” Hopson said. “And the state of Kansas basically shook our hand and said, ‘hey, we’re going to work with you on this project.’ It proved everyone wrong, and we’re very thankful for that.”

The project

Johnson County commissioners, including committee member Jim Allen, a former Shawnee mayor, earlier this summer proposed a pilot project similar to what KDOT adopted. It was to install cable median barriers along the two stretches where multiple cross-median crash fatalities had occurred in the last decade.

Younger said KDOT will begin preparing a process to solicit bids to install the cable median barrier between Eudora’s Church Street and East 2300 Road exits in Douglas County and for two miles near the Kansas Highway 7 interchange in Johnson County. He said they were two sections that had experienced a high number of cross-median crashes. Cables are utilized heavily as safety measures aimed at preventing cross-median crashes in other states, including Missouri. Before Wednesday KDOT had only authorized two other cable median projects, near Topeka and Wichita.

KDOT is currently widening shoulders and adding rumble strips to them while doing repaving work on K-10 in Douglas County. Younger said he hoped that project would wrap up in the next couple of weeks.

As for the cable installation, he said KDOT typically has a nine-month process to collect information to design a project and solicit bids.

“We’re going to try to compress that time frame as best as we can, maybe into six or seven months,” Younger said. “But even with that, we’re probably looking at construction in the middle or end of the next summer.”

Some members of the K-10 committee had recommended KDOT install four more miles of a cable median barrier, from Eudora east to De Soto, but Clay Adams, KDOT’s northeast Kansas area engineered who was a co-chairman of the committee, said there was an even split on support for the two plans.

“It made more sense to KDOT to concentrate on this 2-mile section at Eudora,” Adams said.

Much of the committee’s work centered on the cable median barrier, but KDOT said it will also lobby the Kansas Legislature to designate K-10 as a “highway safety corridor,” making it eligible for more enforcement and increased fines for traffic violations. Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, is expected to work on the legislation.

Younger said in the meantime, KDOT will also explore ways to add extra law enforcement on K-10, possibly through providing funding to local law enforcement agencies.

Johnson County had offered initially to pay for 20 percent of the project near Kansas Highway 7, and Douglas County Commissioner Nancy Thellman said she expected to get a similar request from the state. But Younger said Wednesday KDOT will pick up the entire cost of the project.

“From the beginning the cost was never an issue for KDOT,” Younger said.

State policies

Once the cables are in place, KDOT officials will monitor how they work because their use could have an impact on statewide policy.

“Obviously we’re going to look at how they perform over time and if indeed they take care of the cross-median events,” Younger said. “We’ll kind of monitor how they work in this area. We’ll continue to work on and look at crash history throughout the state, work on our policy, adjust and modify how it seems fit.”

Alison Shutt said her mother and other committee members helped notify KDOT officials of other cross-median crashes that occurred on K-10 that weren’t showing up in statistics.

“This hopefully will save lives, and I would like to see KDOT in the future add on to these cable barriers,” said Hopson, the Eudora mayor and committee’s other co-chairman. “Maybe some day we could have them the full length of the highway.”

Shutt on Wednesday spoke to reporters and clutched her daughter, who has now healed from her injuries.

“She’s made a full recovery much quicker than anyone thought she would,” Shutt said. “The doctors were very impressed with her recovery.”

She also called her son a “super hero.”

“I think just Cainan would be really proud that this all happened after our accident, and that he’s able to make a difference for people,” she said. “I think he’d be really proud of that.”

By George Diepenbrock

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K-10 panel to request safety barriers

A panel studying the safety of Kansas Highway 10 east of Lawrence will ask the state to install two stretches of cable-median barriers near Eudora and De Soto and farther east in Johnson County, two committee members told the Lawrence Journal-World Tuesday.

“All we can do is get the facts and make the best decision we can possibly make. I think we’re on the right road for this,” said Eudora Mayor Scott Hopson, a committee member. “We’re hopefully going to get these barriers in the right locations.”

The possible installation of the barriers on the busy commuter highway in Douglas and Johnson counties has been a hot topic for the Kansas Department of Transportation since a deadly April 16 cross-median crash near Eudora. Two Eudora residents, including 5-year-old Cainan Shutt, died in the accident.

Soon after the crash, Hopson wrote to Gov. Sam Brownback asking him to direct KDOT to install the barriers for 23 miles — between Lawrence and Interstate 435 in Johnson County.

Brownback ordered KDOT to work with local stakeholders to study cable barriers and the highway’s safety.

Last summer Johnson County commissioners initiated a proposal for a pilot project that would have KDOT install cable-median barriers along K-10 at a two-mile stretch near the Kansas Highway 7 intersection and a one-mile stretch near Eudora because of the deadly and serious crashes that have occurred in those areas in the last decade. Two Johnson County women were also injured in a cross-median crash in July near Kansas Highway 7.

That project was estimated to cost $125,000 per mile with Johnson County picking up 20 percent of the cost in its county.

Now Johnson County Commissioner Jim Allen, who also wants cable along the whole 23-mile stretch, said the K-10 committee has extended its recommendation for a cable-median barrier from Eudora east to Lexington Avenue in De Soto.

“I think KDOT wants to see a demonstration that cables actually work,” Allen said.

The local committee is also expected to ask KDOT to lobby the Kansas Legislature to designate K-10 as a safety corridor — a program modeled after other states — making the highway eligible for higher fines for traffic violations and additional enforcement.

KDOT officials said Deputy Secretary Jerry Younger, the state transportation engineer, would meet with committee members at 10:30 a.m. today at the Eudora Community Center, 1628 Elm St.

By George Diepenbrock

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K-10 bridge work begins Monday

Road crews with the Kansas Department of Transportation will be reducing westbound Kansas Highway 10 to one lane from Ridgeview Road to Woodland Avenue and from Kill Creek Road to Lexington Avenue, around the clock, beginning Monday, Oct. 31 at 7 a.m.

Crews will be repairing bridge joints on the K-10 westbound bridges over Lexington Avenue, Kill Creek Road and Mill Creek Road as part of what a press release from KDOT calls "an emergency project."

Concrete barriers and signs will direct traffic through the work zone at a reduced speed of 55 mph, according to KDOT. The project is expected to be completed by mid-November, pending weather conditions.

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It’s that time again: Be on the lookout for deer as you’re driving

Much of the fall is designated as deer hunting season, but for many Americans it might be more aptly renamed deer hitting season.

Deer mate during the months of October to December, so it’s no surprise that the number of vehicle-deer accidents increases during those three months.

A combination of no natural predators to keep deer populations in check and restrictions on when and where hunters can kill deer mean that herds have grown during the past several decades. And continual land development in rural areas has created a greater potential for deer and human conflicts.

Here are some numbers to illustrate just how much deer and humans are colliding.

$3.6 billion

The amount of vehicle damaged caused by deer accidents each year in the United States.

$3,170

The average amount of property damage per vehicle each deer accident is likely to cause.

1.6 million

The number of crashes each year in the United States caused by deer.

9,103

The number of accidents in Kansas in 2010 caused by deer.

2

The number of people who died in Kansas in 2010 from a deer related accident.

305

The number of people who were injured in Kansas in 2010 from a deer related accident.

4,704

The number of accidents in Kansas in 2010 where an animal, the majority of which are deer, were listed as a contributing cause.

8

The number of people injured from deer related accidents in 2010.

6.8 percent

Percentage of accidents in Douglas County in 2010 where deer were listed as the cause.

145

The number of deer related accidents in Douglas County in 1991.

55.9 percent

The increase in the number of deer related accidents in Douglas County from 1990 to 2010.

AAA and the Kansas Insurance Department have tips for drivers to decrease the chances of hitting a deer.

Stay alert

Scan the road and shoulders ahead of you. By looking ahead, it’s hoped you’ll have enough time to react if a deer is spotted. Often, the reflection of a deer eyes and their silhouettes can be seen on the shoulder of the road. Remember if you see one deer, it’s likely others are nearby. Also, always wear a seat belt, remain awake and stay sober.

Use high beam headlights

If there isn’t any oncoming traffic, switch to your high beams. They help spot deer earlier, giving you more time to slow down. If there are deer on the road, beep your horn to scare them.

Be extra cautious at dawn and dusk

Deer tend to be on the move at the same time most workers are. So, make sure you’re on the lookout for them during early-morning commutes and on the drive home from work.

Brake, but don’t swerve

If a collision is unavoidable, AAA says to press the brakes firmly and remain in your lane. Whatever you do, don’t swerve to avoid a deer. That can cause more serious crashes or result in drivers losing control of their vehicles.

Call for help

If you hit the deer, like thousands of Kansans do every year, contact your insurance company immediately. Collisions involving deer are generally covered under insurance policies. And, if the dead deer is blocking the road or poses a danger to other motorists, report the incident to a local law enforcement agency.

By Christine Metz

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