Here's a rundown of the accident history along the South Lawrence Trafficway. The list is the most recent compiled by the Kansas Department of Transportation and does not include recent fatality accidents:
- 2007: 52 accidents, 10 of which injured 15 people.
- 2006: 37 accidents, 13 of which injured 19 people.
- 2005: 46 accidents, nine of which injured 17 people.
- 2004: 29 accidents, two of which injured five people. One person died in one accident.
- 2003: 37 accidents, five of which injured 10 people. One person died in one accident.
Kansas Highway Patrol troopers will be lining up Saturday to encourage safe arrival and departure for fans at the annual Sunflower Showdown.
To hear Lt. Robert Baker tell it, the growing roster of highly trained professionals - outfitted with high-speed equipment and impossible-to-miss uniforms - will be serving as attentive traffic referees, working to ensure everyone plays by the rules and avoids avoidable inconveniences, injury or even death.
"There will be extra patrol over there and, believe me, it will be noticeable," said Baker, a Topeka-based supervisor who works on such Roving Aggressive Violation Enforcement, or RAVE, patrols. "If they see a blue uniform out there, it kind of gets their attention: 'I want to do the right thing.' 'I don't want to get stopped.' "
The upcoming RAVE, which coincides with the Kansas-Kansas State football game at Memorial Stadium, is part of a coordinated game plan to boost on-road safety in an area where recent accidents have caught officials by surprise.
Four people have died in three crashes since Oct. 20 along Kansas Highway 10, a run that has spurred government responses as officials await results of investigations into the accidents' causes:
¢ This week, the highway patrol mandated that its on-duty troopers in Franklin and Douglas counties spend at least two hours of each shift on K-10. Of particular focus is the South Lawrence Trafficway, which connects the Kansas Turnpike and the Farmers Turnpike northwest of Lawrence with Iowa Street at the southern end of town. Troopers from other areas of the state are being offered overtime to step up patrols along K-10.
¢ The Kansas Department of Transportation, in addition to financing the troopers' overtime patrols on K-10, is investigating the potential for physical changes to make the trafficway safer. In 2004 the department added signs along some areas of the trafficway, in response to a safety audit. Now engineers are looking at other potential changes - installing rumble strips down the two-lane highway's centerline, for example - that could make a difference.
Even one fatality accident along the trafficway would be unusual, said Kim Qualls, a KDOT spokeswoman. That there have been two in recent weeks - the other occurred on K-10 near Eudora - demands that engineers and others take a detailed look at options.
"You want to address it and see if there's anything that can be done," Qualls said.
Technical Trooper Edna Buttler, who used to have Douglas County as part of her patrol area, said that the Douglas-Franklin County region typically had three or four troopers on patrol at any given time. Additional troopers are being encouraged to accept overtime to bolster the patrol's presence on the entire stretch of K-10.
"We're human. We can't prevent everything from happening," Buttler said. "There's always someone who has to make that last cell phone call, or be asleep, or leave the road for whatever reason and cross the line and have and accident.
"We hope that the increased officer patrol will help lead to preventing those accidents."