Inattentive, reckless drivers put Kansas roadside workers at risk

Road maintenance workers, construction workers, and emergency responders across Kansas put their lives on the line each day to earn a living. The actions of distracted drivers, speeders, and drunk drivers are unpredictable, and sometimes roadside workers are injured or killed in crashes.

Roadside workers seek to raise awareness

One roadside worker for the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) recalls his truck being struck three times within two years. During each incident, his vehicle had arrow lights notifying drivers to move over.

“Our trucks are lit up like a Christmas tree, you even got a message board that pulls up. What more can we do to alert motorists? That’s really why it frustrates me more than anything. It’s scary, it, at times, feels overwhelming,” he said.

Fortunately, the worker wasn’t seriously injured in any of the crashes. Two other MoDOT employees, however, had been killed by negligent drivers within the past 15 years while conducting roadside work.

During National Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week — which took place November 10-16, 2019 — MoDOT teamed up with the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) to raise awareness about the dangers roadside workers and emergency responders face each day.

Crashes involving roadside workers far too common

In both Kansas and Missouri, the law requires that drivers move over to another lane when roadside workers are present. Otherwise, drivers are required to slow down when passing an emergency crew or worksite. Sadly, many drivers do the opposite.

For example, a study conducted by the Center for Construction Research and Training found that from 2011-2016, approximately 532 construction workers were killed while working roadside. Roughly half of those deaths involved being struck by negligent drivers.

According to data cited by the National Safety Council (NSC), there were 37 traffic fatalities and more than 17,000 injuries in 2013 due to crashes involving emergency responders.

What did the roadside safety survey show?

The NSC also surveyed drivers regarding their behavior around workers responding to roadside emergencies. Nearly half of all participants said that being struck by a car is just part of the job. The survey also found that:

  • Nearly 20 percent of drivers admitted to driving distracted when passing a roadside work zone.
  • Nearly a quarter said they were unaware of any laws requiring them to slow down or move over.
  • About 80 percent admitted to slowing down to observe a roadside emergency.

The message can’t be clearer and simpler: drivers must reduce their speed and move over when passing a roadside work zone or emergency responders. If you’re a roadside worker who was injured by a driver who inattentive or behaving recklessly, you have the right to take legal action.

The Kansas attorneys at Bretz & Young Injury Lawyers are dedicated to fighting for the rights of injured roadside workers. We handle car, truck, and pedestrian accident claims, as well as workers’ compensation claims.

We will gladly discuss the legal options available to you and help you build a strong legal claim. To learn more, contact us online and schedule your free consultation.

Allen County Transportation Officials No Longer Waiting for KDOT to Repair Dangerous Roads

Several of Kansas’s major roadways are crumbling, making conditions dangerous for drivers. Old 169 Highway (US-169) around Iola and Humboldt is one of the many roadways devastated by potholes, cracks in the road, and other infrastructural defects.

Earlier this year, the Iola Register reported that increased traffic (including large commercial trucks) has taken a toll on Old 169, causing officials to close off some portions of the road and requiring drivers to take a detour.

Allen County officials have sought potential funding sources to restructure Old 169. Among those was the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT), but after receiving no response regarding the roadway repairs, county officials are seeking other options, according to a recent story in the Iola Register.

County officials taking matters into their own hands

Commissioner Jerry Daniels urged local officials to be proactive and take the initiative to make crucial roadway repairs in the near future.

“I think if we don’t hear anything from KDOT soon, we need to prioritize some of the hot spots and get them done,” Daniels said.

Daniels, along with other county commissioners, agreed to tour the roads with Public Works Director Mitch Garner to identify key roadway defects that need to be fixed before winter arrives.

Commissioners were granted a bid sheet by Bettis Asphalt, which totaled $816,729.25 and included seven sites along Old US-169/K-224 that are poised for repair.

Commission Bruce Symes explained how waiting on KDOT could make matters worse.

“I am not that optimistic that we are going to hear back from KDOT anytime soon. And with winter coming it is just going to make the bad spots worse,” Symes said.

The main areas of interest are K-224, Old 169, and US-169.

What are the dangers of driving on poorly maintained roads?

Poorly maintained roadways put drivers at risk of an accident for the following reasons:

  • Hitting potholes and uneven surfaces can cause drivers to lose control of their cars.
  • Drivers are at risk of tire blowouts.
  • Lanes and roadway markings may be difficult to see when faded.
  • Overgrown vegetation can block crucial signs.

If you were injured in a crash involving a roadway defect, you may be able to pursue a car accident claim if:

  • Local or state officials failed to fix the defect.
  • Another driver was traveling too fast, driving recklessly, driving negligently, or failing to take necessary precautions.

No matter how complex your car accident may seem, the legal team at Bretz & Young Injury Lawyers know how to take on negligent parties and get results. Our personal injury attorneys represent injured motorists across the state of Kansas. To find out how we can help you, contact us online and set up your free initial consultation today.

County Officials Seeks Infrastructure Changes for High Accident Area

Reno County, which is located just northwest of Wichita, had a total of 1,274 crashes in 2017, according to the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT). Nine of them were fatal and another 267 resulted in injuries. Statewide, there were 58,829 crashes.

In order to help bring these numbers down, the Reno County Commission recently approved an initiative that could potentially reduce the number of serious crashes.

How Reno County is leading by example

Reno County transportation officials seek to implement a local road safety plan as part of a new requirement of the KDOT to receive funding for road construction projects, The Hutchinson News reports.

The safety plan includes an engineering agreement between county officials, KDOT, and Wichita engineering firm Kirkham Michael & Associates. The purpose of this plan is to identify roadways and intersections with the highest crash rates throughout the county and devise a strategy to make improvements.

“Any intersection that we have or curve that we have,” said Public Works Director Dave McComb. “We look at the accident rates and also a list of countermeasures appropriate for those routes.”

McComb anticipates that this effort will take between a year and 18 months to complete. It will also cover all major and minor collector routes throughout the county.

After an extensive review of the crash history of a certain area, about 90 percent of the costs could be covered by state and federal funds. The rest could be covered by local sources. Getting the funding, however, isn’t easy, according to McComb.

“You’re not going to get funding without a safety plan,” he said.

Are infrastructural changes effective enough at curbing serious accidents in Kansas?

The state of Kansas could take some cues from Reno County officials. Intersections, in particular, are a dangerous place for Kansas drivers. According to KAKE, two people were killed in a fiery collision at an uncontrolled intersection in Finney County over the summer.

An intersection on U.S. 50, just north of Sylvia, has also caught the attention of KDOT after two fatal crashes occurred within a 50-day period, according to The Hutchinson News. Following a deadly crash in May, KDOT’s Traffic Engineering Section was requested to look for any changes that need to be made to the intersection.

Infrastructural changes on Kansas roads may help lessen the severity of crashes and sometimes prevent them entirely. Serious and fatal crashes are almost always caused by driver negligence, however, such as speeding, driver distraction, alcohol and drug impairment, and drowsiness.

If you were injured in a crash or lost a loved one because of someone else’s reckless actions, speak to an attorney at Bretz & Young Injury Lawyers as soon as possible. We have a reputation for successfully representing injured motorists across the state of Kansas and have the case results to prove it. Don’t hesitate, contact our law office today and set up your free consultation.

Kansas Attorneys Offer Best Ideas to Prevent Crashes in School Zo

Students throught Kansas recently went back to school. That means a sharp rise in child pedestrians and bicyclists, increased traffic in school zones, and school buses that make frequent stops. Many drivers, however, are still adjusting to the change.

The greatest risk children face at the beginning of the school year is in school zones and at bus stops. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 264 fatalities across the United States related to school transportation. Approximately 203 of those deaths involved children walking, waiting at a bus stop, riding a bicycle or riding in a car.

What can be done to reduce crash risks in school zones?

Last month, the Wichita Police Department teamed up with the American Automobile Association (AAA) to raise awareness of school zone safety, according to KWCH12. This effort involved placing signs around Wichita elementary schools warning drivers to slow down. The signs read “School’s open. Drive carefully.” According to AAA, this effort is conducted each year in conjunction with Wichita Public Schools.

“We actually do this every year around back-to-school time to make drivers aware that kids are going to be back on the roads,” says Shawn Steward with AAA Kansas. “Be extra careful. Be extra vigilant of those kids.”

Wichita Police Sgt. Steve Yarberry also warns drivers to be cautious in areas where kids are walking, especially around crosswalks.

“You’ve got kids all over the place around schools,” Yarberry says. “They’re running out in front of traffic.”

Many of the crosswalks in Wichita school zones are equipped with flashing lights to alert drivers to slow down or stop. Unfortunately, according to Yarberry, some drivers choose to disregard these flashing lights.

“You’ll see the lights start flashing and people speed up to try to beat it because they don’t want to sit there for the red,” Yarberry said.

In addition, Yarberry warns that it’s common for drivers to pass school buses, even when the stop arm is extended and the red lights are flashing.

Shockingly, reports that more than 1,000 Kansas drivers have ignored school bus stop arms during a one-day test conducted in April 2019. Since the test only involved three-quarters of Kansas school districts, that number is likely much greater. State law requires that drivers stop in both directions when a school bus has its stop arm extended.

What can you do to stay safe?

Crashes in school zones are preventable when drivers, students, and parents become aware of the potential risks. The NHTSA offers some tips on how crashes can be prevented:

  • Ensure that a child arrives at a school bus five minutes early, remains five steps away from the curb, and only boards the bus when it is safe to do so.
  • Ensure that children under the age of 10 are accompanied by an adult or guardian.
  • Encourage walkers to always use sidewalks and crosswalks when available.
  • If no sidewalks are available, walkers should stay on the edge of the road facing traffic.
  • Walkers should avoid distractions and look both ways if no crosswalk is available.
  • Bicyclists should always wear properly fitted helmets, avoid distractions (such as electronic devices and headphones), and ride in the same direction cars are traveling.
  • Teen drivers are expected to keep distracting items out of reach and avoid risky driving behavior.
  • All other drivers must reduce their speed, be prepared to stop, and stay attentive.

If you or a loved one was hurt in a school zone crash because of someone else’s reckless or careless behavior, speak to an experienced Kansas attorney at Bretz & Young Injury Lawyers and find out what legal options are available to you. You can schedule your free consultation today by contacting us online.

Dangerous Wichita Road Raises Safety Concerns Among Residents

Are you familiar with 13th Street in Wichita’s Riverside neighborhood? If you are, you may know that it is among the most dangerous parts of the city in terms of driving. One particular intersection and stretch of 13th Street has raised safety concerns among residents, according to KWCH12.

Incidents that prompted a call for change

“A couple of weeks ago,” said one resident. “There was that hit-and-run. A guy on a motorcycle got hit by some kind of work truck and the truck just sped away.”

Another resident reports that she was at a crash scene at 13th Street and Woodrow involving a car and a motorcycle. The motorcyclist was seen underneath the car – with not a single bystander stopping to offer help.

“The first thing that I did was ask him what his name was and I grabbed his hand and let him know someone was here with him,” she said.

This incident prompted the resident to act. About a year later, she started a petition and began collecting signatures to urge city officials to devise a solution.

“If nobody takes action and all we’re doing is thanking those who help us after the fact, then we’re going to continue to have this problem,” said the resident.

Actions taken by the city

Her petition caught the attention of City Councilwoman Cindy Claycomb, who cited a traffic study that is now in the works.

“We’d already been working on a traffic study, looking at traffic counts, a compilation of crash statistics,” she said. “So, we’re in the process of making that happen.”

In addition to analyzing the dangerous stretch of 13th Street, the traffic study will scrutinize a series of dangerous blind curves further north.

“The curves are beautiful because they go along the river, but those curves make it difficult for people to see sometimes when they’re trying to turn left,” said Claycomb.

Actions you can take after a crash

If you were injured in a crash, it’s crucial that you start building a strong claim from the beginning. Take photos of the crash scene and speak to witnesses if you’re able to. Seek immediate medical attention, even if your injuries seem minor.

After that, talk to an experienced Kansas car accident attorney as soon as possible. The attorneys at Bretz & Young Injury Lawyers are dedicated to helping injured motorists across the state of Kansas maximize their compensation.

Fatal crashes caused by texting and driving on the rise in Kansas

Everyone knows that texting while driving is a dangerous distraction, but is it as bad as drinking and driving? Wichita AAA says yes.

Shawn Stewart of AAA told the Kansas ABC affiliate KAKE that “driving on your phone can be just as impairing, just as dangerous, just as deadly. It’s really come to that point.”

The Kansas Department of Transportation states that in 2017, 26 percent of all traffic crashes in Kansas were attributed to a driver’s failure to give full time and attention to driving.

According to the National Transportation Safety Administration over 300,000 people were killed and almost 400,000 were injured in crashes caused by distracted driving. Texting is quickly becoming the top distraction.

Stewart said the numbers are probably even higher because distracted driving is difficult to prove. AAA created a distracted driving PSA that features a texting driver because it’s become such a major factor in car accidents.

The stats on texting and driving

  • Between 2012-2017, nearly 20,000 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver.
  • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), there were 3,166 people killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2017. While this reflects a nine percent decrease from 2016-2017, there is still much work to be done. In the last six years, 9.5 percent of all fatal crashes involved a distracted driver.
  • Texting while driving has become an especially problematic trend among younger drivers. In fact, in 2017, eight percent of people killed in teen (15-19) driving crashes died when the teen drivers were distracted at the times of the crashes.
  • According to NHTSA, since 2007, young drivers 16- to 24-years-old have been observed using handheld electronic devices while driving at higher rates than older drivers.
  • Female drivers with a phone have been more likely to be involved in fatal distracted driving crashes as compared to male drivers every year since 2012.

What can you do in the event of a crash

If you’re involved in a car accident with a distracted driver, it’s critical to understand the legal options available to you. An experienced Kansas car accident attorney at Bretz & Young Injury Lawyers will investigate the cause of your crash and work tirelessly to recover damages on your behalf. We proudly represent injured drivers across the state of Kansas.

Contact us today to schedule your consultation, free of charge.

Attorneys on Serious Crashes Caused by Drivers Fleeing from Police

A recent tragedy occurred in downtown Wichita when two occupants of a Toyota Camry were killed in an intersection collision with a BMW SUV. The driver of the SUV, which was reported stolen, was attempting to flee from police, according to the Wichita Eagle.

A 70-year-old woman and a child were both killed in the collision, and another passenger in the Toyota Camry was seriously injured. In addition, the driver of a Chevy HHR also sustained serious injuries in the crash after being struck at the same intersection. The driver and a passenger of the SUV were both critically injured, as well.

Once police spotted the SUV, they chased it, and the driver sped off and continued to gain distance from police. The crash occurred about a mile away from where the chase began. All the injured were taken to the hospital.

How common are crashes caused by high-speed chases?

High-speed police chases are likely to result in serious and fatal crashes. While most drivers don’t typically encounter such a dangerous occurrence, it’s a subject that doesn’t get as much attention as it should.

According to a 2015 USA Today article, more than 5,000 fatalities involving bystanders and passengers were caused by high-speed police pursuits between 1979 and 2013. In most cases, people were struck by drivers fleeing from police.

The article cites records from six states showing that 17,600 people sustained injuries in chase-related crashes from 2004-2013, which averages 1,760 injuries per year during that time.

The reasons behind police pursuits range from traffic violations and petty crimes to serious felonies. Drivers who flee from police likely don’t care about the danger they put others in. In most cases, a chase will end with a severe crash. In other cases, hit-and-runs occur.

Your legal options after a chase-related crash

Crashes like this happen unexpectedly and can be unavoidable for those caught in the middle of a police pursuit. Should you or a loved one sustain injuries in a crash caused by a driver fleeing police, you may be eligible for compensation.

The aftermath of a chase-related crash can be complex. Obtaining compensation may be difficult if:

  • The vehicle involved was stolen and the driver was uninsured.
  • You were struck in a hit-and-run and the driver was never identified.

That’s why it’s critical that you discuss your crash with an experienced Kansas car accident attorney at Bretz & Young Injury Lawyers. We possess a wealth of legal knowledge and have real courtroom experience representing injured motorists in all types of crashes.

Don’t wait. Contact us today to learn more.

Best Ideas to Avoid Crashes Caused by Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is all around us, and unfortunately isn’t always reported as a factor in a crash. It doesn’t always have to include the use of cell phones and infotainment systems – despite technology playing a major role in distraction.

According to Psychology Today, distracted driving has always been a major factor in traffic accidents, even before the advent of handheld devices. Even without technology, it can involve any “shift in driver concentration toward a secondary task, leading to a deviation of attention from driving.”

Psychology Today divides distraction into three categories:

  • Visual distractions: Any distraction that causes drivers to take their eyes off the road is especially dangerous. Visual distractions could include drivers turning their heads to look elsewhere, focusing their attention on dashboard features, or looking at handheld devices.
  • Manual distractions: Even when drivers’ eyes are on the road, any task that involves taking their hands off the wheel can result in a loss of vehicle control. This can include adjusting a radio, eating, opening a glove compartment, or manually handling a cell phone.
  • Cognitive distractions: Even when drivers’ eyes are on the road and hands on the wheel, their minds could be elsewhere. Cognitive distractions are often attributed to drowsy driving, daydreaming, or highway hypnosis (when a route becomes so familiar, drivers don’t think about where they’re traveling).

Kansas officials take action

While we may not be able to address all forms of distracted driving, we can at least start with the most prevalent form in today’s world – texting and driving.

KSNK reports that in April, AAA Kansas launched a new initiative called “Don’t Drive Intoxicated – Don’t Drive Intexicated.” Their aim is to prevent statewide traffic accidents caused by cell phone distractions behind the wheel.

According to a March survey by AAA Kansas, about 97 percent of Kansas drivers believe that texting and driving poses a serious safety threat. On the other hand, about 90 percent of respondents admitted to texting and/or reading texts behind the wheel.

State traffic safety officials offer simple ways distracted driving crashes can be prevented. Drivers should:

  • Avoid temptation by keeping mobile devices out of sight
  • Program navigation systems before driving
  • Pull over somewhere safe when making a call or sending a text
  • If passengers are available, ask them for help

Even those who aren’t behind the wheel should avoid calling or texting others who may be driving. Passengers should speak out or offer help if they see a driver engaging in distracted behavior.

What you can do

If you’re involved in a crash with a distracted driver, it’s critical to understand the legal options available to you. An experienced car accident attorney at Bretz & Young Injury Lawyers will investigate the cause of your crash and work tirelessly to recover damages on your behalf.

Contact us today to schedule your consultation, free of charge.

Best Ideas to Avoid Bicycle-Related Traffic Deaths on Kansas Roads

Route 66 is an American staple that many tourists and historians have romanticized about for nearly a century. During its prime, it was once congested with motor vehicles, dotted with gas stations, and full of roadside charm.

Once dubbed “Bloody 66,” however, the iconic roadway – which stretches from Chicago, IL to Santa Monica, CA – has seen countless fatal accidents over the years.

As more drivers prefer the convenience of nearby Interstate 44, some parts of Route 66 have become an attraction for bicyclists, particularly throughout Kansas and Missouri. Since the historic route is nearly a century old, its outdated infrastructure puts bicyclists at risk of being struck by speeding or inattentive drivers.

The dangers bicyclists face

A small stretch of Route 66 runs through the southeast corner of Kansas, where a bicyclist was fatally struck by a jeep in February. The accident occurred at night, when the bicyclist was crossing the highway. Only a year earlier, two German bicyclists were killed in a fatal traffic accident after being hit from behind by a minivan.

The factors that led to both accidents are unknown, but The Geeky Cyclist identifies the dangers that bicyclists may face on Route 66 and any other roadway. These include:

  • Rear-end accidents: Poor visibility and reckless driving are the most common causes of rear-end accidents with bicycles.
  • Driver doesn’t see rider: Sometimes obstacles in the road and merging lanes can put bicyclists in the path of moving vehicles. These accidents are often caused when drivers fail to pay attention to bicyclists.
  • The right hook: Intersections are dangerous for bicyclists due to turning vehicles. For example, a bicyclist could be injured by a right-turning vehicle while passing a side street. This can happen when a vehicle either turns in front of or strikes a bicyclist. Poor judgment of a bicyclist’s speed is often the cause of this type of crash.
  • The right cross: Like the right hook, this type of accident occurs when a vehicle turns right off a side street directly in the path of a bicyclist. The same type of accident can occur when a driver makes a left turn.

Your legal recourse after a bicycle accident

Bicycle accidents often come without warning. When a crash occurs, it’s usually always due to driver negligence. That’s why it’s always important to take photos of the crash scene (if you’re able to) and obtain contact information from witnesses. An experienced Kansas bicycle accident attorney can take care of the rest.

Being struck by a careless driver can be a frustrating and overwhelming ordeal. That’s why the legal team at Bretz & Young Injury Lawyers would like to speak to you, review your case, and explore your legal options. Contact us today to learn how we can help.

Speed-Related Traffic Fatalities on Kansas Roads

Have you been prepared for fluctuating road conditions this winter? According to online-media group Thrillist, Kansas – which ranked #27 among states with the most miserable winters – is “smack dab” in the middle. Temperatures can reach as high as 80 or significantly dip below freezing.

The unpredictable changes in weather can be hazardous to Kansas drivers for the following reasons:

  • Drivers may not be prepared to give themselves more time when winter weather strikes.
  • Drivers may be less experienced when it comes to navigating slippery roads.
  • Fluctuating temperatures can cause flooding or black ice.

What to watch out for during Kansas winters

Common roadway hazards faced by many Kansas drivers include:

  • Snow, ice, sleet, freezing rain: KAKA reported icy road conditions and high winds along stretches of Interstate 70. Conditions were so bad that vehicles were reportedly sliding off the road. One truck driver even claims that he had to stop for the night after his trailer went off the road. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, about 24 percent of weather-related auto accidents are caused by winter weather conditions – resulting in over 1,300 traffic deaths and 116,800 injuries each year nationwide.
  • Rain and flooding: On the day after Christmas, city officials in Wichita urged drivers to slow down and watch out for street flooding. Kansas often experiences winter flooding due to temperatures rising significantly above freezing after a snowstorm, and rainfall is also possible. When drivers travel too fast for the conditions, accidents caused by hydroplaning can occur.
  • High winds: High wind gusts can be problematic for Kansas drivers during the winter. Wind can blow snow into the roadways, causing whiteout conditions and limited visibility. It can cause vehicles to slide or spin out when roads are covered with ice or snow. It can also cause black ice on bridges and overpasses.

Your legal options after a winter accident

Driving safely during inclement weather conditions isn’t rocket science. It only requires attentiveness, preparation, and reduced speed. Not all drivers are as cautious as we’d like to think. Some simply see no issue with exceeding the speed limit, texting behind the wheel, or driving aggressively. This type of behavior results in someone else getting hurt.

Should you or a loved one be injured in a crash, it is critical that you speak to an experienced Kansas auto accident attorney who can help you explore your legal options. Contact Bretz & Young Injury Lawyers today to learn more.