The “Sunflower State” of Kansas, a mid-west state, located with two-thirds of its western landmass on the central great plain and the eastern third has many hills and forests as part of Permian rock outcrops. Originally an agrarian state, it still holds many of its roots in the farming community. Considered as one of the main bread-basket states in the Union it is known for its grain production. This farming history shows up in modern-day policies with a specialized graduated licensing system, one of the most widespread state highway systems and its severe punishments for driving under the influence.
A Flat Plain, a few trees
Kansas, as part of the great central plain, rises in elevation from east to west, as the plain rises to meet the mountains further west. This great plain covers a full two-thirds of the state on the western half, creating a great flat land. This provides for a wide open space with straight line highways and easy driving conditions for most of the state. The eastern third of the state provides for more scenic drives through river valleys and rolling hills. Often referred to as the ‘flattest state in the nation’, most scientists believe it is ranked approximately 30th flattest in the nation.
The climate of the state and how it affects driving conditions varies greatly. The state officially has three different climate zones. The typical mid-western climate, humid continental comprises the majority of the state and takes up the eastern two-thirds. With hot humid summers and sometimes cold harsh winters provide a typical Midwest climate. With up to 35 inches of snowfall in the northwest, north and northeast, as a result of snowstorms out of the mountains, driving can change quickly to slippery roads in the northern extremes of the state.
The western third of the state is considered a semiarid steppe climate which have hot and very hot summers with less humidity and winters can range from mild to very cold, producing the high snowfalls mentions above. The far south-central to south eastern portions of the state however is considered a humid subtropical climate with hot humid summers and mild winters.
These three diverse climate regions unfortunately produce one of the most dangerous portions of Tornado Alley in the US. Ranked second with the most average annual number of tornados per 10,000 square miles; Kansas sees EF3 tornados and higher frequently every season. With large damaging hail, straight line winds, and large super cell thunderstorms possible, driving conditions can change in an instant because of these storms. Taking cover is advised.
No Fault, Insurance Required
Kansas is one of the few no-fault insurance states in the US. If you are involved in an accident in Kansas, generally you do not seek damages from the perpetrator or their insurer, but rather submit a claim through your own insurance. The system in Kansas, does allow drivers to seek damage awards in special circumstances where a permanent injury causes permanent damage, loss of a body function or permanent disfigurement or if medical expenses as a result of the accident is more than $2000.
Under these circumstances drivers can litigate the matter civilly to recover damages and expenses beyond the amount covered by their own insurance. The state, as a no-fault system, requires insurance for licensed drivers. The state requires liability insurance, Uninsured/Underinsured and Personal Injury Protection insurance. This extensive insurance requirements seem onerous, but considering Kansas has one of the best road systems in the country and low traffic congestion throughout most the state, it has managed to limit the cost of insurance to individuals. Kansas City metropolitan area within Kansas is the largest populated center and Wichita is the largest City in Kansas with only just over 300,000 people.
With one of the harshest penalty systems for DUI’s in the US, Kansas provides a criminal conviction for offenders of DUI even on the first offense. Something most other states only do upon multiple convictions. Although specific penalties within the state are not as harsh as in other states, the criminal conviction and its permanency on a person’s record is quite severe.
Other penalties include 30 days suspension, required ignition interlock device, a minimum 48 hour jail sentence, 100 hours of community service, mandatory drug and alcohol treatment programs and court costs. These are all available to judges in the criminal proceedings on a first offense. Even harsher penalties can be given out on first offenses if they involved a car accident, an injury or death or a minor in the vehicle under 14 years old or a BAC over 0.15%.
Kansas is an implied consent state, meaning that chemical tests during routine traffic stops are not optional. If you refuse, your license is revoked for 1 year on the first offense and 2 years or more on subsequent offenses. .
Moving Violations in Kansas
Unlike many states, Kansas does not use a Point system to keep track of moving violations. However the state has marked a number of infractions as automatic license revocation infractions including:
- Causing death by motor vehicle
- Failing to stop at an accident to give aid to injured persons that result in further injury or death
- Reckless driving charges
- Using a vehicle to commit a felony
- Eluding a police officer with a vehicle
- Aggravated vehicle homicide
- Assaulting someone using a vehicle.
Other violations that can result in a license revocation include DUI, driving with an open alcohol container, failing to carry continuous liability insurance, not responding to a traffic citation in any state including Kansas, not showing up for a mandated court appearance and failing to submit to a chemical test.
Did You Know That…
1. Kansas City is in Missouri.
2. There is a second, smaller Kansas City in Kansas, named after KCM.
3. DUI convictions in Kansas result in a criminal record.
4. Kansas is home to over 50 tornados a season in its Tornado Alley.
5. Has recorded the 5th hottest temperature in the US at 121F.
6. Is a no-fault state where drivers make claims against their own insurers.
7. Kansas’ largest city, Wichita is only 300,000 people.
8. Is often called ‘flatter than a pancake’, but is not the flattest state.
9. A Restricted Farm Permit allows 14 year olds to drive to school unsupervised.
10. Has the 3rd largest US State Highway system after Texas and California.