Special to The Hays Daily News
Next 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 will 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.
According to preliminary KDOT stats, during the 2013 Thanksgiving reporting period, there were 569 collisions, resulting in 150 injuries, and six deaths. Of these crashes, 48 were alcohol related, resulting in 27 injuries and three deaths. For 2013, the reporting period was from 6:00 p.m. Wednesday, November 27, through Sunday, December 1 at 11:59 p.m. (102-hour reporting period). The reporting period for this year will be from 6:00 p.m. the Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving, through 11:59 p.m. the Sunday following the holiday (Nov. 26-Nov. 30).
Before hitting the road for travels, the Patrol encourages motorists to take the following things into consideration:
* Make sure your vehicle is in good working order. Check 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, in case you are involved in a crash or experience mechanical problems with your vehicle.
* Charge your cell phone before you leave in order to make important calls if needed.
* Dress for the weather. If you plan to travel in cold weather make sure you have a coat in the vehicle, and warm shoes in case 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 a 511 road condition hotline 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 drive while impaired. If you consume alcohol, call a friend, family member, or taxi service for a sober ride home.
If travelers are in need of assistance on a Kansas highway, they can dial *47 (*HP) for the Kansas Highway Patrol, or dial *582 (*KTA) on the Kansas Turnpike, and we'll send someone to assist. We wish all of our travelers a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.