Archive for Friday, May 23, 1997

AUTHORITIES

May 23, 1997

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The holiday weekend will send thousands of motorists onto Kansas highways, and the state highway patrol is ready for them.

Authorities are hoping to reduce the fatality count on Kansas roads this holiday weekend to the magic number of zero.

Last year, seven people died in traffic accidents on Kansas roads during the Memorial Day Weekend.

"If everybody just follows the basic laws ... I really think we'll have a very safe weekend," said Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper John Eichkorn.

The KHP will have additional troopers, motor carrier inspectors and motorist assistance officers on roads and highways this afternoon and evening. The Patrol's jurisdiction is all streets, roads and highways in the state.

The boost this weekend is to help alleviate problems during what is anticipated will be the busiest time on Kansas roads.

"There will be a lot of people coming home from work and a lot of people going on vacations," Eichkorn said. "Friday night will be our peak period."

Motorists traveling on the Kansas Turnpike between Lawrence and Topeka should expect delays because of a five-mile construction zone in which traffic is limited to one lane in each direction.

"To help avoid congestion in the construction zone, (drivers) are urged to reduce their speed and immediately merge as instructed by the posted construction signs," the Kansas Turnpike Authority said in a statement.

"Drivers who do not merge when signs direct them to do so, and continue in the outside lane expecting to be able to merge into traffic at the last moment, are often responsible for causing accidents and generally disrupting the traffic flow."

KTA Lt. Terry Maple said extra signs, troopers and maintenance personnel would be in the area throughout the weekend.

He recommends that motorists tune their radios to 630 AM in the Topeka area and 1610 AM in the Kansas City area for road and weather information.

Accidents in the construction area only make delays longer. Recently, motorists were stuck in the area for more than an hour following a noninjury accident.

The KHP also will have a new drunk driving unit in the Barton County area this weekend. The unit includes two holding cells, breath testing units and video cameras for recording sobriety tests.

Eichkorn said about 75 percent of accidents occur within 25 miles of home.

"But that's because most people are home most of the time," he said. "Obviously, if you travel away from home, your chances of having an accident away from home go up."

The American Automobile Assn. in Topeka reported that the national average price for regular, unleaded gasoline is $1.24 per gallon.

The figure is $1.19 per gallon in Topeka and $1.17 per gallon in Wichita, the AAA said.

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