Archive for Wednesday, August 17, 2011

K-10 panel to recommend higher fines, tougher enforcement

August 17, 2011


— A committee studying the safety of Kansas Highway 10 from Lawrence east to Interstate 435 agreed Tuesday night to ask the Kansas Legislature to designate the four-lane highway as a “highway safety corridor” to increase fines for traffic infractions and allow for additional enforcement on the busy commuter road.

Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, attended the meeting in Eudora and indicated he would begin working on a bill to propose for the 2012 legislative session.

“It’s my understanding this would mean enhanced enforcement and increased fines so that we make people aware that we have a safety issue here, and we’re serious” about drivers obeying the speed limit and traffic laws, said Rick Walker, a De Soto city council member.

It was the first concrete recommendation from the committee formed in the wake of the April 16 cross-median crash near Eudora that killed two of the city’s residents, including 5-year-old Cainan Shutt.

Gov. Sam Brownback has ordered the Kansas Department of Transportation to work with Douglas County and Johnson County residents and officials to study KDOT’s policy for placing cable median barriers on K-10 and make other safety recommendations.

Clay Adams, KDOT’s northeast Kansas district engineer who is co-chairman of the committee with Eudora Mayor Scott Hopson, said other states have targeted dangerous stretches of highways with higher fines and tougher enforcement. Hopson said after the meeting he also planned to ask the Eudora Police Department to patrol for speeding drivers more on the portion of K-10 that is in the city limits.

Members of the Johnson County Commission last month proposed a pilot project to install a cable median barrier along two portions of K-10 where more than one cross-median fatality crash occurred since 2000 — a two-mile stretch near K-10 and Kansas Highway 7 in Johnson County estimated to cost $250,000 and the one-mile portion in Eudora near the April 16 accident estimated at $125,000. Johnson County as part of the plan would provide the state with 20 percent of the funds for the Johnson County stretch.

Adams also said Tuesday KDOT has asked Dean Sicking, a University of Nebraska civil engineering professor, to study one-mile stretches of the state’s four-lane roads and identify dangerous “hot spots” that might be candidates for a cable median barrier due to the number of accidents and other factors like speed.

Cainan Shutt’s grandmother Carie Lawrence, a committee member, said hundreds of people have signed a petition asking the state to install cable median barriers because they believe K-10 is an unsafe highway. KDOT officials have said cable median barriers won’t stop all injuries and deaths.

“I’m not here to say we don’t want to put cable median barriers up on K-10,” Adams said. “We just want to make sure that if we do we don’t create a problem worse than what we have out there now.”

Adams also told committee members KDOT has awarded a $4.3 million bid to Hamm Co. of Perry to begin work on expanding shoulders on K-10 in Douglas County and installing rumble strips on the inside shoulder meant to alert drivers who veer onto it. The project, scheduled to begin in September and end Nov. 4, also includes milling and repaving of the driving lanes.


Flap Doodle 2 years, 8 months ago

merrill suggesting that more police be hired? Inconceivable!


Richard Heckler 2 years, 8 months ago

I like this plan. Let's put Kansas people back to work and food on the tables patrolling K-10.

Make Kansas beautiful. Let trees grow in the middle of the median then provide more crossover spots for the K-10 Traffic Patrol team.

Save Kansas Money - Let volunteer trees grow in the middle of the median = natural barrier and reduces the cost of mowing.


Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 8 months ago

Something that really bothers me is that the police rarely if ever pull over someone for burned out headlights, turn signals, and this especially bugs me:

They almost never pull over people for brake lights that are not working! I believe that most people that have that problem are not even aware of it.

The fine for that is trivial, and that infraction does not go on your driving record.

To get the fine waived, all you need to do is go down to the courthouse within a week and demonstrate to a police officer that the lights have been repaired and are now working. Then the whole thing is forgotten about.

Far to many people count on the brake lights on the car ahead of them to work. But, it's not at all uncommon for them to be burned out!


jayhawklawrence 2 years, 8 months ago

I am also against increasing fines. Fines are very high already and once you increase the fines then they will find a reason to increase fines everywhere else.

I see the main problem is that the people who are abusing their driving privilege are not afraid of any consequences from their actions. They are careless, change lanes recklessly, follow too close, drive too fast and drive too slow.

I would continue to increase the patrols on this road which I see they are doing now. I would make sure that the bad drivers see a police car everytime they drive this road and I would put up warning signs along the road. We need to inform the bad drivers that we are watching and we are coming after them.

It is a good idea to provide a special designation for this road and to put a scare into the drivers who don't seem to want to change their habits.


Joe Hyde 2 years, 8 months ago

The physical changes that KDOT is looking at here (cable barriers in two spots, rumble strip on left lane fog line) are very good ideas. I'd like to suggest an addition to the physical improvement considerations: Set up a brief, 1/2-mile long 55mph zone on K-10 Highway to protect east and west bound traffic through that very tricky junction, said zone starting 1/4-mile each side of the junction with K-7 Highway. This junction features two "pop up" merge lanes where vehicles are crammed into K-10's right hand lane. Reduced velocity through there will increase the amount of time needed to perform collision avoidance methods maneuvers. Result? Fewer collisions there, in all weather.

The idea of increasing law enforcement is good, too. Real good. And in that vein I'd like to suggest to the officers that they can make traveling on K-10 more neighborly if they'd begin aggressively going after tailgaters. Excessive speed is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what makes driving on K-10 so dangerous. Lots of times a caravan of vehicles is flying along at the maximum allowable speed, which is fine except they're following one other so closely you'd swear they were connected by towbars. Totally psychotic driving behavior. Anything goes wrong with the vehicle in front -- dodging a deer, for instance -- you get a "bowling for dollars" scattering of vehicles, some of which might careen across the median into the two oncoming two lanes.


Liberty275 2 years, 8 months ago

"Is Godspeed divisible by zero?"

That's how they make Volvonium. It is the hardest of all metals. It's much harder than diamond.


thuja 2 years, 8 months ago

72 is divisible by 9, and like all multiples of 9, adding the digits 7 and 2 equals 9.

71 and 73 are prime numbers, maybe a more pure, indivisible speed.

Is Godspeed divisible by zero?


thuja 2 years, 8 months ago

If someone is riding your butt and you slam on your brakes and they hit you, it is their fault.


JerryStubbs 2 years, 8 months ago

Ron Holzwarth: It's not always safe to drive alongside or close behind trucks. They can't see you as well as you can see them. If something goes wrong with a truck, like it blows a tire or something, you don't want to be just drifting past it when that happens. You don't want to be behind a truck when it goes uphill,, or sheds a tire tread. You don't want to be along side it if the rim bolts blow, they can kill you.

The best thing about K-10 is the relatively low number of trucks on it, compared to I-70. Maybe some cable barriers in select locations are appropriate. The rumble strips might help more than extra patrols. How can extra patrols predict ( and prevent) when somebody is just drunk and drives on the wrong side of the road? or has some personal condition or even mechanical failure?

On the other hand, at night, those flashing lights can really have an effect on drivers, and that might help.Maybe just park a patrol car with the lights flashing about halfway to Desoto.


JerryStubbs 2 years, 8 months ago

K-10 is much safer than the old two lane K-10 that weaved right thru Desoto and Eudora. If I remember it was considered one of the most dangerous roads in Kansas. 70 was the defacto speed limit at the time, but you couldn't drive that on those curves!

With a passing lane all the way and the fairly low traffic rates we have here in Kansas there's little reason people can't drive along at whatever reasonable speed suits them ( or the vehicle they're driving) and get there safe and sound.

Some people might consider Alceste a little hypocritical-- admittedly breaking the 70mph speed limit at the same time as obstructing traffic. Alceste thinks that 72 is OK (even though we don't know if his speedometer is accurate, and most aren't ) and that as long as he is moving at all faster than the traffic on the right he is within the law, even though the following shows me he is violating the spirit of the law:

Alceste says ... "Flash them lights....ride that bumper....sooner or later you're going to regret it. When I finally do let you pass me, I'm capturing your license plate and then phoning it in to the Sherrif and the Highway Patrol. Hands free of course."

And then to top it off he is guilty of inattentive driving (hands free operation isn't proven safer, and is just as much a violation in locations that prohibit cell use while driving ).

Also you shouldn't use cruise control when you are in enough traffic that you might need to adjust your speed to deal with that traffic, and if there is so much traffic you can't move back to the right after passing this would seem to be the case.

In fact, I think that is what that new law is intended to discourage: Setting your cruise control and then just driving in the left lane. Cruise controls on different cars work differently. Plus eventually you might run into someone that set their cruise on 71, or 70. Then what will you do?

I sympathize with Alceste's position if there is a long line of slower cars in the right lane, ie, bumper to bumper, and you want go the speed limit you should be entitled to pass, and you might not be able to move immediately back to the right.

But remember-- some of those soccer mom's can get pretty harried, with kids throwing stuff, yelling, and who knows what else. It's safer for them to make up some time on a four lane limited access highway than in town, if for some reason they are running late.

And when you think of all the thousands of cars that travel on K-10 everyday, you can imagine that some of them may have a more pressing reason than :

Alceste says ... "Perhaps the children might want to slow down: leave for work in at a proper time; allow for exiegency based travel happenings; ease up on them $10 Starbucks; etc. It ain't me babe....."

so it's good to be considerate of them too.


Daffy 2 years, 8 months ago

The government is desperate for money. They can milk this !!!SAVING LIVES!!! mantra, putting a sleeper hold on the unsuspecting motorist, by jacking up fines. Auto's can handle 90 mph stints with ease these days. It's not like H10 is loaded with Pinto's and Vega's.


estespark 2 years, 8 months ago

Well, I didn't realize they formed a committee. That should get things squared away in short order. If there's one thing history has taught us it is this - if you want to get something done your best bet is to form a committee. And make sure it is co-chaired by two government officials with different agendas.


classclown 2 years, 8 months ago

Alceste (anonymous) replies…

German drivers on the German Autobahn DO understand courtesy and simplicity. Let me know when that starts happening in Kansas, not to mention the USA.


Why can't it start with you?


classclown 2 years, 8 months ago

Alceste (anonymous) replies…

My perspective is that I have as much right to be in the left lane doing 72mph until the right lane moves up from 62-65. Too, I don't feel safe with the idiot mergers on the right hand side. It's just not safe. Do your thing.....I'm doing mine. Gonna continue to do it, too.


Your perspective is wrong. In fact the only reason for a vehicle to be in the left lane is for passing. If you are not actively passing another vehicle ( that doesn't mean taking several minutes to do it either ), then you are to drive in the right lane. In fact, the people out there doing 90 mph or more are by law, supposed to stay in the right lane unless they are actively passing.

And quite frankly, cops would just as soon pull over and ticket the slow driver in the fast lane for holding up traffic rather than go after the speeders. I've seen it happen.


geekin_topekan 2 years, 8 months ago

Fines and enforcement? Ya mean make K-10 commuters accountable for their own safety? B-b-b-ut the cables...the gubment is apposed to save us!


thuja 2 years, 8 months ago

All us idiots who obey the law should be ashamed of ourselves for getting in the way.

Now, what exactly are we getting in the way of? Progress?

At that rate, one day, we'll be born already dead. Hurry up!


thuja 2 years, 8 months ago

One day we will run out of oil and all of these problems will be solved.


Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 8 months ago

It's surprising that there is so much discussion on this thread about accidents on K-10 and some other highways and what various posters believe are the basic causes for them.

So many have mentioned that drivers who were intoxicated by alcohol or other drugs were really the problem, when only yesterday there was an article in LJWorld that covered the basic nature of addiction to various drugs and alcoholism that is really the basic cause of so many accidents.

Here's what's amazing: I was the only one that posted on that article.


Phone_Man 2 years, 8 months ago

I feel for each and every family who have had an officer show up to their door to inform them a loved one was lost in an automobile accident. To all of you Ashats who think speeding is their right and the people going the speed limit are the problem you can go straight to Hll. If everyone did the speed limit and observed the laws fatalities would drop; end of story. Unfortunately we will always have the drunks and idiots who speed because "its cool" so the best we can do is be a better driver so we can be prepared and avoided them when they crash and burn. Cables and concrete will reduce the fatalities but I don't believe for one second it will stop them all!


notorious_agenda 2 years, 8 months ago

There were 19 fatalities due to accidents on K-10 to 435 from 2001 to 2010. 19 is not high enough to justify making this road a safety corridor. There were many many more deaths on other roads which are not safety corridors. This is ridiculous and now less cops will be on those other roads while they waste their time on K-10.

Thanks a lot cable barrier supporters, the cable barrier for K-10 is not realistic(it will do just as much harm as good) so they will just ticket the crap out of everyone. Its easy they count the tiremarks in medians; Obviously there are many more who stop in the 30' median without crossing over than actual crossovers(who woulda thunk it). Once they realize that they decide what other way they can "control" us and decide that to fine us more is a good idea.


gatekeeper 2 years, 8 months ago

I drive K-10 most days. The cops are often speeding too. A few weeks ago, two cars passed me (racing each other) going so fast I about cr*pped myself. This was just before Desoto and once you go over a small hill, you can see Desoto and often an officer sitting running radar. These cars hit their brakes and both got into the right lane. The officer did absolutely nothing. NOTHING. I think it depends on if they need to meet their quota and if they feel like getting out and giving tickets.

Keep in mind, these cars were racing at speeds well over 100 MPH and the officer had to have seen them as they approached and he chose to do nothing.

I see so many people texting, reading, etc.... on K-10 and have just watched officers pass them. I don't know what it will take to make officers take charge, but I don't think changing the fines for speeding will do anything. I am very sensitive about this because I was recently hit while at a stop light by a girl who was playing with her phone and had my car totalled and now have chronic back pain because she chose to not pay attn to the road and couldn't be bothered to put down her phone. The officer that came to the wreck wouldn't even check her phone, even though the officer was advised that she was looking down without her hands on the wheel.

There is no easy solution unless officers follow the rules themselves and strictly enforce them 24/7. Good luck!


Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 8 months ago

Actually, the only real solution is a concrete barrier in the median. Unfortunately, that is very expensive.

The turnpike now has a concrete barrier on its whole length within Kansas. I once had car trouble on it, and had a brief conversation with a patrol officer that patrols only the turnpike.

He told me that when he saw there was an opening to be a turnpike patrolman, he jumped at the chance because he really hated going to work every day and not knowing what he would experience. There were many gruesome scenes, but he did not go into any detail.

He told me that since he had been a patrolman on the turnpike, he had seen just about exactly zero fatal accidents. Sure, there were rollovers and people in the ditch, but those weren't all that stressful to respond to.

Another time I had a more lengthy conversation with a former police officer that used to work in Shawnee county. He told me that when he first started, he was quite lenient with speeding violations.

But, after pulling out to many dead bodies, if he caught someone going ten or more miles over the limit, he would issue a citation. Because, he told me that speeding is the number one cause of accidents and fatalities.

It's a basic law of physics - the faster you are going when something goes wrong and you end up in the ditch or median, the greater your chance of dying is.

And this is absolutely true: You have no control over what other drivers are going to do, and the faster you are going when you collide with them the greater your chances of dying are.

Of course, you can always find many people that claim that they can go as fast as they want safely. Their tires will never blow out, and no one will ever cross the median towards them, and they know that for a fact.


poiii 2 years, 8 months ago

Sounds like higher fines are going to reduce crossover crash rates on K10.

Maybe making each infraction on K10 cost 1 percent of the individuals average wealth over the last 5 years will cure the problem. It that does not do it try 5 percent, if not that try 10 percent. Keep upping the percentage and eventually the K10 problem will be a thing people only write about as a historical account.


Adrienne Sanders 2 years, 8 months ago

In how many deadly accidents on K10 was speed a factor? What time of day did these accidents happen? It sounds to me like they're going to crack down on speeding commuters, which wasn't a major cause in the crossover accidents that I can recall over the past few years.


droppinplates 2 years, 8 months ago

"If you don't go the limit you are a hazard and probably causing congestion..."

This is very true. There are people out there like Alceste who believe they are the safest person on the road and self appointed rule enforcers. While travelling in the left lane, at or below the posted speed limit, and refusing to move over, they become just as much of a hazard as those who are exceeding the speed limit.


rwwilly 2 years, 8 months ago

I am just curious. Relative to other limited access, 4 lane divided stretches of Kansas highway such as I-35 or !-70, how disproportionate are fatalities on K-10? If this statistic is included in the article, I missed it. It's heavily travelled, that's for sure. I travel it twice daily almost all the way to Lawrence. I observe state police almost daily during my commute. I suppose a lane barrier might reduce deaths. What do the statistics tell us about barrier vs non-barrier fatalities on equally busy highways? Everyone travels fast on K-10... the speed limit is 70. That's fast. If you don't go the limit you are a hazard and probably causing congestion which is legit if you stay in the right lane. I see little benefit to more patrolling or higher fines. There is no accounting for aggressive, idiot drivers except by being a defensive driver. If you can get a license number and succesfully prosecute, go for it.


VoiceOfReason 2 years, 8 months ago

I'm all for pulling over and fining more people for driving like idiots on that road. But that won't stop the fatal cross-overs that are usually due to alcohol and/or drugs.


omnedon 2 years, 8 months ago

Fines for speeding are not a "sin" tax, they are intended as a punishment for endangering the general public for dangerous behavior. A "sin" tax is what you pay when you purchase alcohol or tobacco.


Alceste 2 years, 8 months ago

Raise the fines to obscene amounts of money. Let the people speed....but make them pay for it and then take their license away for a time.

72mph is more than sufficient to get from Lawrence to Kansas City. If you're in that big a hurry....leave earlier.....get a job in Lawrence....suck it up. The more you flash your lights at me, the more I'm likely to continue on. "Officer it was not possible for me to move from the left lane to the right lane as the general speed of traffic in that right lane was slower than it was in the left lane. Also that fellow behind me was doing 85+ mph. Isn't that above the lawful limit? Was K-10 made one of the 75mph roads?" "I understand Citizen. You have not broken the Kansas Law. Have a nice day."

Flash them lights....ride that bumper....sooner or later you're going to regret it. When I finally do let you pass me, I'm capturing your license plate and then phoning it in to the Sherrif and the Highway Patrol. Hands free of course.


Pete_Schweti 2 years, 8 months ago

...because that would be ridiculously expensive, impractical and there would be no way to keep the sand in the median? Just a guess.


coryweber 2 years, 8 months ago

Why not fill the median w/ sand?


VoiceOfReason 2 years, 8 months ago

I find it a little difficult to believe that the drunk and/or stoned guy, who is about to cross-over and crash, is going to stop and think, "Wait! The fine will be higher here, if I do that...better not." But, maybe that's just me.


Benjamin Roberts 2 years, 8 months ago

Dear Government, There is a problem on K10. Inattentive drivers, drivers under the influence, sleepy drivers, and even some elderly drivers have crossed the median causing head-on collisions killing innocent drivers and passengers. We believe a cable barrier would prevent some of the deaths. Signed, The People

Dear People, We have studied the situation. We will increase patrols and fine speeders. Yes, we know that speeding was not the cause of any of the cross-over crashes. However, the cross-over crashes have provided your government with the opportunity to increase sin taxes (speeding fines). Thank you for expressing your concerns and allowing us to provide an unrelated, yet profitable, answer. Signed, Your Government


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