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Thanksgiving day busy for travelers
icy main Jan. 2020
Ice on Main Street Great Bend, Friday, Jan. 17, 2020. - photo by Daniel Kiewel

Kansas roads will be busy today due to holiday travelers going to and from their destinations for Thanksgiving. The Kansas Turnpike Authority and Kansas Highway Patrol want to remind motorists to prepare in advance, and to make responsible choices as they travel this coming holiday and the days surrounding it. 

“Travelers using the turnpike should watch for signs directing them to the appropriate lanes for their payment method — cash at the tollbooth or with a valid, compatible transponder from Kansas, Oklahoma, or Texas, especially if traveling between East Topeka and Kansas City,” KTA’s Director of Engineering David Jacobson said. “Being alert is important to the safety of everyone on the road.”

According to Kansas Highway Patrol and the Kansas Turnpike Authority, along with local law enforcement organizations from throughout the state, the Kansas Highway Patrol will mobilize to participate in the annual Special Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) campaign. 

The program is courtesy of a grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation. The STEP program will run in conjunction with the Patrol’s participation in the Combined Accident Reduction Effort (CARE) program, a revitalized program with the goal of reducing fatality and injury crashes. Other state police and highway patrols across the nation will participate in the CARE program as well. Both STEP and CARE target impaired drivers and focus on enforcing seat belt and child restraint laws, as well as other traffic safety laws. 

Before hitting the road, the agencies encourage 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 winter conditions, make sure added precautions are taken for the cold weather.

• 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 to check roads in the state of Kansas. 

• Remember, we are in the peak time for car-deer crashes in our state. Look out for deer, and if you see one, remember they seldom travel alone, so more could be following. 

• If you consume alcohol, make sure you designate a sober driver beforehand, and give them your keys. If you have no ride, call a taxi or a family member to get you home safely. 

• If travelers need assistance on a Kansas highway, or to report a suspected impaired driver, motorists should call *47 (*HP) for the Kansas Highway Patrol, or dial *582 (*KTA) on the Kansas Turnpike. Dispatchers and troopers will both be working throughout the holiday weekend. 

AAA projects 54.3 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving, a 4.8 percent increase over last year. The 2018 holiday weekend will see the highest Thanksgiving travel volume in more than a dozen years (since 2005) with 2.5 million more people taking to the nation’s roads, skies, rails and waterways compared with last year.