Sunday, August 22, 2010

K-254, Too Dangerous?

Recently, there have been 3 fatal accidents on this road, one of them involving a motorcyclist.
Not sure this was the exact intersection, but there are many like it on this stretch of K-254 between Wichita and El Dorado, Kansas. The intersections are relatively well marked. The construction of the road is very fine.
I admit to not always paying a lot of attention to the news about vehicle accidents. But sometimes my ears perk up if I hear that it involves a motorcycle. In this particular case, a motorcyclist was dead at the scene. He was not wearing a helmet. It might not have made a difference.
The intersection of K-254 and Webb Road. Webb Road is a 4 lane paved road south of K-254, a gravel road north of K-254.
K-254 is a state highway. It is a quick route from the north side of Wichita to El Dorado where you can connect to the Kansas Turmpike. The Turnpike can be accessed in Wichita also, but if you can shave off 25 miles of toll road with an equally good free road, then why not?
I have crossed this road before, but will only sparingly ever travel on it. It's a little fast for Max and I. If I am riding out of town, I generally like state highways as opoosed to interstates and US highways. The state highways generally have less traffic and slower speed limits. But K-254 is an exception to that.
Looks much like an interstate, doesn't it.
For some reason I felt sort of drawn to the area on a Sunday morning. Pay my respects? Maybe. I guess I was sort of curious.
The speed limit is obvious.
Okay, if you are like me, if the speed limit is a certain number, don't you add 5 to that. Well a lot of people do. I have seen people literally fly down this road.
Looking west from one of the intersections
One of the problems as you approach K-254 from one of the intersecting roads is trying to guess how fast the traffic is moving. It is safe to assume that the traffic will, at a minimum. be traveling 20-30 mph more than that of the intersecting road. This requires you to speed up very quickly as you get on the road. There is also the issue of judging the gap of traffic into which you might enter.
Just how visible is this motorcyclist?
He's a little closer now.
This next picture really points out the issue for me. This is taken from a bridge over K-254 at Woodlawn Ave. There are exit and on ramps at Woodlawn. But there are no exit and on ramps at many of the other intersections. It has always seemed a bit strange to me to have a road with such a high speed limit and interstate features with as many intersections, almost every mile, as there are on this road.
In this picture at the top you can see the next intersection. The intersecting road is gravel to the north and paved to the south.
Easy to merge from this street.
The authorities have been looking at some of the safety issues. It's a great road and arguably some of the drivers involved were not as careful as they should have been. But some people have wondered whether this road is just too good. Maybe better than it should be.
The motorcyclist that lost his life was traveling on K-254 just a couple of miles from here. Someone pulled out in front of him while they entered the highway. A damn shame.


  1. We have some roadways similar to K-254 in eastern MO and it seems like they worst outcomes to accidents than roadways with ramps and merge lanes. I think people underestimate the speed of on coming traffic and don't realize it until it's to late. I suspect there are a lot of drivers doing +10 or better to the posted. Luckily for us they have been removing the stop signs and adding overpass' and ramps.

  2. See? Motorcycles are much safer. Two out of three highway deaths involved motorists on Kansas Highway 254. You have a 60 percent chance of dyuing if you ar ein a car versus a 33 percent chance on a motorcycle (a zero percent if on a scooter).
    You can twist statistics any way you want.
    I think every state should make the sunflower it's highway symbol.

  3. The more things that can go wrong, the more things will. This road seems to have a lot of the same things that can go wrong as do the urban roads I travel but with differences. One difference is the speed limit on the roads I travel is 40 which means traffic is only going 55-60. But, the bigger difference is it isn't what it appears to be. It isn't limited access. I suspect the seduction to drive as if it were limited access would be very great...and likewise, I can see how when entering this road the mistake of having the idea it was just a regular highway and forgetting that folks are driving 80mph to 90 mph could prove fatal.


  4. Art,
    I just wish people would be more careful. But in this case the roadway setup doesn"t seem to help. Unfortunately, part of the problem may be people texting or messing with their phones or any other sort of distraction.
    Thanks for the visit and comment.

  5. Conch,
    I'm glad you like the sunflower, and it's good to know that scooters are safer than any other vehicle. I had a statistics teacher in college who, first day of class said, you can make statistics say anything you want if you play around with them long enough.
    Your comments are always inspiring

  6. Keith,
    Forgive the momentary confusion on my part, but now see you have been a busy guy. I'll need to spend more time on your blog. Last week I was on jury duty and I am so far behind at work now it isn't even funny. I'll get back to you soon.
    As always, thanks for the visit.

  7. Dear CPA3485 (Jimbo):

    It is incomprehensible to me how you can have a 70 mile per hour speed limit on a road that has through intersections.

    Fondest regards
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  8. Jack,
    It's really a great road, very smooth and very fast. But in my opinion it is way overbuilt. A much simpler road could serve the same purposes. Guess I should have bought stock in that paving company. There is another road like it going west from Wichita to Hutchinson, Ks. But the intersecting roads are much less frequent. ON K-254, all of thwe section roads cross the highway meaning that there is an intersection almost every mile.
    Take care and thanks for stopping by.