Kansans and other Midwesterners have much to be thankful for come Thanksgiving. They are blessed with gas prices that are among the lowest in the country and an economy that fared better than that in other parts of the nation.
More than 3.7 million people from Kansas and the other six states that comprise the American Automobile Association’s West North Central Region will travel over the Thanksgiving holiday, virtually unchanged from last year. They will pay on average $3 per gallon for gas (the lowest in a long time) and trek an average of 515 miles.
Proportionally more of the region’s population visits family and friends, travels more by auto, and allocates more dollars in travel budgets for fuel transportation, dining, and watching sporting events than any other region.
While under 14 percent of the U.S. population will travel, nearly 18 percent of our West North Central region will travel.
That goes to show that we hold family, friends and getting together as a high priority.
But, there are other seasonal considerations as we head over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house. As witnessed locally between this past Wednesday and Thursday, weather in the Golden Belt can change on a dime. Bad weather coupled with increased traffic can make for a dangerous situation on highways.
According to preliminary Kansas Department of Transportation stats, during the 2012 Thanksgiving reporting period, there were 629 collisions, resulting in 203 injuries, and five deaths. Of these crashes, 32 were alcohol related, resulting in 23 injuries, but no deaths.
Safety officials urge everyone to plan ahead by checking on weather and road conditions, planning their routes and preparing emergency kits should they get stranded in the cold. They also caution motorists to avoid distracted and impaired driving (be it from alcohol, loud music or cell phone use).
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.
Winter road conditions are also accessible by dialing 5-1-1 from a mobile phone or by going to the Kansas Department of Transportation web site at http://511.www.ksdot.org.
The goal of the holiday trips is to enjoy each other’s company. Getting there safely is the first step.