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Safety officials remind motorists to watch weather
new deh weather story pic
Traffic makes its way through a snow storm earlier this year. A recent storm missed this area, but officials say drivers must be ready. - photo by Tribune file photo

 The Golden Belt may have dodged a snowy bullet this past weekend, but the flurries that fell Wednesday are a reminder that winter is here and motorists need to be careful.

The Kansas Highway Patrol, Kansas Turnpike Authority, and the Kansas Department of Transportation are urging motorists to practice safety on the roads this holiday season. More people will be traveling, impaired drivers could be encountered, and winter weather is always a threat this time of year.  

KDOT maintains KanDrive, a travel information portal, which can be accessed at This can be used to look at the Kansas highways before you ever leave home. While it is not specifically a smart phone app, it does have the ability to work on most smart phone browsers and can be book marked to your home screen for easy access. Drivers can also call 5-1-1 from any phone in the state (or call 866-511-5368 out of state) for road conditions, closures, work zones, and weather information. The agencies urge motorists to check the road conditions and plan their route before they leave, and to notify family members of your route. 

The Patrol and Kansas Turnpike urge motorists to call them if they need assistance on a Kansas highway, or if they see a suspected impaired driver. The Patrol can be reached at *47(*HP), and the Kansas Turnpike can be reached at *582 (*KTA). The Patrol’s Motorist Assist units will be working in the busy areas of the state, as will the Kansas Turnpike’s State Farm Safety Assist program. Travelers using the Kansas Turnpike are also reminded that they can save on tolls by using a K-TAG or a PIKEPASS. 

Over the Christmas holiday last year (reporting period was from 6 p.m. Wed., Dec. 24, 2014, through 11:59 p.m. Sun., Dec. 28, 2014.) there were 393 crashes in the state, which killed three people. None of the fatality crashes were alcohol-related. There were 106 people injured in the crashes. 

Motorists can contribute to a safer traveling experience by using the following tips:

• Prepare your vehicle for winter travel by replacing your wiper blades, ensuring your tires have good tread, and checking your vehicle’s fluids, exhaust system, and other mechanical equipment. 

• Always wear your seat belt, and properly secure children in the appropriate safety seats. 

• If you’re involved in a non-injury crash that involves non-hazardous materials, move your vehicle out of the lane of traffic to protect yourself as well as other motorists. 

• Always make sure you designate a sober driver for a safe ride home from your holiday festivities. Law enforcement will be out working, and they remind you that “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.”