This week Kansas roads will be busy with holiday travelers going to and from their destinations. The Kansas Highway Patrol will mobilize, along with other law enforcement organizations across the state to participate in the annual Special Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP). The enforcement program is courtesy of a grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation.
The Patrol and other agencies will focus on impaired drivers, child passenger safety laws, and seat belt use among travelers of all ages. Because of the STEP campaign funding, there could be more law enforcement officers on Kansas’ streets and highways during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday period when travel increases in Kansas and across the nation.
During the 2011 Thanksgiving reporting period, there were 576 collisions, resulting in 140 injuries, and one death. Of these crashes, 26 were alcohol related, resulting in 11 injuries, but no deaths. For 2011, the reporting period was from 6:00 p.m. the Wednesday prior to the holiday, to 12:00 midnight the Sunday following the holiday (102-hour reporting period).
Before hitting the road for travels, the Patrol encourages motorists to take the following things into consideration:
• Make sure their vehicle is in good working order. Check your tires’ tread depth and air pressure; check the vehicle’s fluids, exhaust system, and other mechanical equipment. If traveling in cold conditions, make sure added precautions are taken for the cold weather.
• The vehicle should also be stocked with items that would be beneficial if you were involved in a crash, such as: bottled water, blankets, non-perishable food, first aid kit, and flashlight with extra batteries.
• Make sure to plan your route of travel and communicate this to your family so they know where you might be at, should you be involved in a crash or if your vehicle broke down.
• Charge your cell phone before you leave, that way you can make important calls if you should need to.
• Dress for the weather. If you will be in the cold, make sure you have a coat in the vehicle, and warm shoes, should you need to stop for any reason.
• Check your route of travel for road conditions and/or construction work or other delays before you leave. The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) provides an improved 511 system for motorists to use. Call 5-1-1 from any phone, or visit www.kandrive.org to check roads in the state of Kansas.
The Patrol reminds motorists not to drink and drive, and do not let your friends or family members drive while impaired. If you consume alcohol, call a friend, family member, or taxi service for a sober ride home, or make plans to have a sober ride home before going to holiday parties. Motorists concerned that another driver might be impaired can use their cell phone to dial *47 (*HP) on Kansas highways or *582 (*KTA) on the Kansas Turnpike to reach the nearest highway patrol dispatcher.