Winter conditions and increased travel make it imperative that people focus on safe driving
• Special to the Leader & Times
With Christmas travelers returning home this week and New Year’s this weekend, the Kansas Highway Patrol is urging motorists to practice safety on the roadways this holiday season. More people will be traveling, impaired drivers could be encountered, and winter weather is always a threat this time of year.
Impaired drivers are dangerous any time of year, but with the winter holidays, more instances of impaired driving could occur due to Christmas and New Year’s parties, and other celebrations with family and friends. Since Thanksgiving, the patrol has displayed red ribbons on agency-owned vehicles to show the agency’s zero tolerance policy toward impaired driving and also to memorialize the lives lost due to alcohol-related tragedies. If you are planning on imbibing in alcohol this holiday season just be smart and designate a sober driver, utilize a taxi or call a sober friend. The results if you don’t could be life changing.
During Christmas 2009 there were:
559 total crashes;
96 injury crashes;
1 fatal crash;
20 alcohol-related crashes;
And 7 alcohol-related injury crashes.
During New Year’s 2009/2010 there were:
487 total crashes;
87 injury crashes;
3 fatal crashes;
58 alcohol-related crashes;
20 alcohol-related injury crashes;
And one alcohol-related fatal crash.
Winter weather can create substantial problems on the highways throughout the winter months. This presents a challenge for motorists trying to travel through the holiday season. KDOT’s KanDrive travel information portal, which can be accessed at: www.KanDrive.org, is very helpful for making driving decisions. Drivers will still be able to access 511 for road conditions, closures, work zones, and weather information.
Motorists can also contribute to a safer traveling experience by using the following tips:
Prepare vehicles for winter travel by replacing wiper blades, ensuring tires have good tread, and checking the vehicle’s fluids, exhaust system, and other mechanical equipment.
Clean frost and snow off all windows, mirrors, and lights, and use your headlights for visibility.
Accelerate and brake gently, and increase the following distance between other vehicles in adverse weather.
Steer in the direction where wanting to go if the vehicle loses traction and begins to slide.
Allow for more time when traveling to and from work, home, school or other activities.
Always wear a seat belt and properly secure children in the appropriate safety seats.
Do not use cruise control when traveling in wet or snowy conditions.
If involved in a non-injury crash that involves non-hazardous materials, if it is safe to do so, move the vehicle out of the lane of traffic to protect oneself, as well as other motorists.