Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Don't PLOW Into Farmers This Growing Season

If you grew up in a small rural town of Missouri it is very likely that you are not a stranger to slowing down while driving because some farm equipment is slowly going down a rural highway.

I remember how annoyed I would get when I got stuck behind agriculture equipment on the road. I had places to go, people to see, and blockbuster movies to watch! The idea of “share the road” was lost on a younger me.

I realize now that the young impatient driver I used to be was a jerk!

Agriculture is a huge part of Missouri’s economy and the food they grow might be the food on your plate and the plate of others around the world. These men and women are not out there on the road just to ruin your drive time, they are doing their job.

To all the farmers that I flew by in my younger years I apologize, and I urge my fellow drivers to be respectful of Missouri farmers and slow down and stay back from farm equipment on the road. It won’t take much time before you are able to safely go around them and on your way.

Drive safe. Be courteous. Arrive alive. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Celebrations and Safety

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...” 
 Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You'll Go!

It’s that time of year again. The time of year when you see teens dressed in tuxedos and elegant dresses at your local Applebee’s and hear high school bands playing “Pomp and Circumstance” which will remain in your head for the following week. The season of emotional parents, embarrassed teens, and so many pictures your camera is likely to call in the extra help of your cell phone.

Prom and Graduation are major events in the lives of the American teen and their family. While the valedictorian is likely to quote the Dr. Seuss classic “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” It is up to you to make sure that the places your teen will go won’t end on those momentous nights.

Talking to teens can at times seem like asking for an argument. I won’t say that you shouldn't expect the classic exaggerated eye roll, or even the annoyed “I know!” over and over as a response. Regardless of these inevitable reactions it is important to talk with your teen about safety.

Tips For Parents 
  • Know and discuss the school code of conduct before the prom with your student. 
  • Know who your daughter or son is attending the prom with and discuss the events for pre and post prom parties with other parents. 
  • Talk with your student about the dangers of club drugs, warning signs and who to notify for assistance. 
  • Discuss responses  he or she can use to get out of uncomfortable situations. (e.g., offered alcohol, intoxicated driver, unwanted sexual advances, etc.) 
  • Discuss guidelines and a curfew. Discuss the consequences of violating these rules. 
  • Discuss travel plans, use a reputable limousine service that will not allow a person to bring, serve or introduce alcohol into the vehicle. 
  • Know who is driving to the prom and who will be a passenger. Limit the number of passengers to increase safety and reduce driver distractions. 
  • Know the location of post prom parties and who is sponsoring them. 
  • Talk to your teenager about the serious dangers and consequences of drinking and driving. 
Remember that Missouri has a Zero Tolerance Law.  If you are under 21, your license will be suspended if you’re caught driving with even a trace of alcohol in your system.

Consider some of the consequences if you choose to drive impaired:

  • If you cause a fatal crash while intoxicated, you can be charged with involuntary manslaughter, a felony resulting in up to seven years of prison time, a $5,000 fine or both. 
  • Your license can be suspended for 90 days on your first conviction. You could be fined up to $500 and spend up to 6 months in jail.
  • A second conviction results in a yearlong revocation of your license. You could be fined up to $1,000 and spend up to one year in jail. 
  • Any person guilty of a second or subsequent intoxication-related traffic offense will be required to install an ignition interlock device on their car before reinstating driving privileges.
  • Minors may additionally be subject to a Minor in Possession citation resulting in license suspension for 90 days for first offense. This is in addition to any suspension resulting from point assessment on an alcohol conviction.
  • If you refuse a sobriety test, you can lose your license on the spot and have your car impounded.

Talk to your teen about the importance of safety. While prom and graduation are momentous occasions in their lives, they are just the start of many more to come over the years. Make sure they know all they need to know so they can go places they will go.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Remembering Captain Planet this Earth Day

Happy Earth Day!

If you are a certain age you are well aware that Smokey the Bear wanted you to help prevent forest fires and Snuff McGruff wanted you to help him “take a bite outta crime.” These were just little cartoon commercials, but they still planted that idea of what you should do to help out.

Growing up there was no better program on television that instilled the idea of taking the time and effort to improve the ecosystem, while still being an action packed show that you and your friends played on the playground, than Captain Planet!

Every episode had a lesson about the necessity of not polluting the earth. When the evil polluting villains became too much for the Planeteers to handle they called on Captain Planet to help save the day.

Looking back this Superman with a green mullet that enforced ecofriendly behavior was a crazy idea for a kid show. Can you imagine hearing that story pitch? There would be a good amount of laughter if I heard it before saying, “wait are you serious?”

It has been many years since I have watched the show Captain Planet, but every Earth Day I think back on the time I spent watching that show, or arguing over who would be Captain Planet and who would be a Planeteer on the playground.

Whether you remember the cartoon or not, take time this Earth Day to be a Planeteer again. Teach the children you love those ecological lessons you learned. Show them the importance of planting a tree, recycling, picking up trash, not leaving the water running and changing out old light bulbs for more energy efficient ones.
If you live in Missouri take time this Friday April 25 to come to Jefferson City and celebrate Earth Day! The celebration will be from 10 AM to 2 PM on the State Capitol south lawn. It will be a day of fun and education with exhibits, presentations and crafts!

While you are there, you will learn about the Adopt-A-Highway program, which is in its 27th year, and how to volunteer to help make Missouri roads cleaner, more attractive and better for the environment.

You will also hear about the annual No MOre Trash! Bash. The Trash Bash encourages folks to avoid littering in the first place and picking up others' trash to help the environment and the wildlife such as birds, fish, turtles and others that can become entangled or otherwise harmed by it.

Peanut the Turtle
One such case is the story of Peanut the Turtle. When a young turtle crawled into a six-pack ring that stayed around her as she grew, the trash deformed her shell into the shape of a peanut. Peanut survived, the ring was removed and she has lived with the Missouri Department of Conservation as their environmental spokesturtle since 1993.

Take time this Earth Day to be a Planeteer again. Educate the young ones in your life on the importance of making the world a better and cleaner place to live and help make stories like Peanut the Turtle's a thing of the past.

Remember, “the power is yours!”

Find out more information on how you can help the environment at:

No MOre Trash! Bash -

Jefferson City Earth Day -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Starting a Road Trip to Adventure

"Winds in the east, there's a mist comin' in
Like somethin' is brewin' and 'bout to begin.
Can't put me finger on what lies in store,
But I feel what's to happen all happened before.”
                                         -Richard and Robert Sherman

Conway Welcome Center
As the cold winds of winter blow warmer each day, a spark is rekindled in the hearts of many Missourians. That spark is the inspiration for adventure, family fun and the open road.

Like many of my fellow Missourians I remember piling in the family car and taking off for great American destinations every summer. As my brother and I piled into the back seat of the car with our minds racing about what “I spy” item would really stump the other during the drive, I would always have that feeling that something exciting was about to begin.

While a detour was usually made to visit grandparents or a nearby cave there was always one stop that we made before leaving the state and one stop before returning home. It was a constant that we would stop at a Missouri rest area. It allowed space to stretch our legs, get a drink, use the restroom and convince my dad to completely unpack the trunk to find the GameBoy that I had packed in my suitcase.

As a kid these stops were markers for the vacation in my mind. Going on a drive was common, but when we stopped at a rest area it was the launching pad for a vacation adventure! We were headed somewhere new, fun and exciting. On the way home the same rest areas were a welcome sight as they told me we were close to home.

With 15 rest areas and eight welcome centers on Missouri Interstates it is easy to find a good break point regardless of if you are launching into a family vacation, returning home from a long trip, or just need a place to pull off the road for a minute.  An estimated 16.5 million visitors will stop at a Missouri rest area this year to enjoy their amenities and a much needed moment to stretch and walk around.

Take time to get to know the Missouri rest area’s and welcome centers at, Catch that spark this summer and let the Missouri roads lead you on an adventure!

Not looking to leave the Missouri this summer? There is plenty of adventure right here in the Show-Me State! Go to for an amazing list of vacations right here at home!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Work Zone Press Conference Highlights Safety

On Tuesday, April 8, Southwest District Engineer Becky Baltz, MoDOT Chief Engineer Ed Hassinger and Highway Patrol Lieutenant Dan Bracker gathered in Springfield to talk to reporters about work zone awareness at MoDOT's statewide news conference.

Baltz opened the press conference by thanking MoDOT's partners and all the highway workers represented.  In addition to MoDOT and the highway patrol, local public works departments, emergency response, and law enforcement were on hand to support the cause. She asked that motorists watch out for everyone who helps keep Missouri moving, so everyone can go home safely each night.

Ed Hassinger and Lt. Bracker took the opportunity to talk about Missouri's "Move Over Law". The law requires motorists to move over one lane and give extra room whenever they see emergency or roadwork vehicles on the side of the road with flashing lights on.
"The law is simple," Hassinger said. "If you see a vehicle with flashing lights on, move over and give some room. If you can't move over, you are required to slow down and proceed cautiously past the vehicles and workers."

Lt. Bracker said that in 2013, the Missouri State Highway Patrol spent almost 1,800 hours on construction work zone enforcement operations. They made 569 arrests and issued 637 warnings.

"The Missouri state Highway Patrol is committed to providing the safest possible highway transportation system for everyone who uses our highways, builds our highways and maintains our highways," said Bracker. "We will continue to make work zone enforcement one of our top priorities throughout the year."

Hassinger also discussed the future of transportation and how lack of transportation funding will change Missouri's work zones.

"MoDOT's focus is increasingly on preservation of the existing transportation system," he said. "By 2017 our budget will fall well under what it takes to maintain what we've got, and that could lead to the deterioration of highways across the state."

Regardless of the work taking place, the most important message of the day was safety. When motorists pay attention and drive with caution through work zones, that means fewer crashes, fewer fatalities, and fewer injuries. Drivers play a key role in making work zones safe for everyone - especially themselves.