By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Officials urge care for year-end travels
Drive sober, stay off the phone and plan ahead
safe new years
With a record number of travelers on the road to celebrate the new year, they are urged to be careful.

WICHITA – As a record number of folks nationwide hit the roadways to fete the year-end holiday season, AAA Kansas wants to make sure that safe driving is at the top of their list or resolutions to ensure an enjoyable and trouble-free journey to the homes of those you love the most. 

“The Great Bend Police Department wishes everyone a Happy New Year,” Chief David Bailey said. “Please drive safely, and plan ahead for safe rides home. May 2020 be a great year for all.”

He is not alone in advising caution.

“The travel season is in full swing with many eager to spend the holidays with friends and family,” said Shawn Steward, AAA Kansas spokesman. “No matter how far you are traveling over the next few days, it is important to remember safety first and be prepared in the event of a breakdown or delay.”

 In the spirit of the season, AAA Kansas is sharing one more important list of tasks to check off whether you’re traveling out of town or around town over the holidays: 

• Be Ready for Busy Roads – This holiday season will bring record numbers of travelers, so pack patience, be courteous, slow down, don’t tailgate and drive attentively and appropriately for the traffic and weather conditions. These reminders will help your family and others on the road make it safely to holiday celebrations and family visits.

• Buckle Up, Every Trip, Every Time – The use of a seat belts by all occupants of a vehicle is the most important safety precaution that can be taken while traveling. In 2018 in Kansas, 127 unrestrained people died in motor vehicle crashes. Many of these deaths could have been prevented with the simple click of a seat belt. Ensure that the lap belt and shoulder belt are secured across the pelvis and rib cage, which are better able to withstand crash forces than other parts of the body.

• Don’t Drive Intexticated – Distracted driving kills an average of nine people and injuries 1,000 each day according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Additionally, it is the third leading driver-related cause of crash fatalities behind speeding and driving under the influence. 

These numbers likely underestimate the problem because most drivers do not admit to distracting cell phone use after a crash. AAA encourages all drivers to put any and all mobile devices away while behind the wheel of a car. If using a navigation system, program the destination before driving or ask a passenger to help with navigation.

• Slow Down, Move Over – ‘Slow Down, Move Over’ laws, active in all 50 states, are designed to save the lives of our law enforcement officers, highway construction workers, emergency response workers and tow truck operators by providing an extra barrier of safety for them as they work along the side of the road. 

An average of 23 tow operators are killed at the roadside every year, with one service provider on average being killed on the job at the roadside every other week. AAA urges drivers to slow down and move over or change lanes, if possible, to give safe clearance to those working roadside. 

• Don’t Drive Intoxicated – Don’t make the holiday season deadly on our roadways by driving while impaired. December has been designated National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, to help bring attention to the dangers of not only drunk driving but drugged driving as well, which has become a growing risk on our nation’s roadways. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drunk-driving related deaths have fallen, but they still total more than 10,000 lives per year. On average, across Kansas, three persons are injured every day, and one person is killed every four days in alcohol/drug-related crashes. And the crashes tend to be more severe. 

Vehicle occupants in alcohol- or other drug-related crashes are more than 2.5 times more likely to be injured or killed than those involved in crashes where alcohol or other drugs were not a factor. Drivers need to remember that alcohol and illicit drugs as well as prescription and over-the-counter medications could impair their ability to drive safely. Always plan ahead to designate a non-drinking driver before any party or celebration begins or plan to call a ride share or taxi when needed. 

Never get behind the wheel of a car when you have been drinking alcohol – even after just one drink. Remember: If you Feel Different, You Drive Different.

• Be Prepared – Before you have a car breakdown and need help is the best time to check that you actually have service.. AAA Kansas recommends assembling and carrying a winter emergency car kit, including cell phone and charger, warm clothes/blankets, tool kit, flash light, jumper cables, ice scraper, snow shovel, traction material (cat litter, salt sand) and drinking water and snacks for human and pet passengers.