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Officials: Plan ahead, be safe if traveling during solar eclipse

Law enforcement and highway officials in Kansas are encouraging people to plan ahead in order to enjoy the solar eclipse safely on Monday, Aug. 21.

Increased traffic is anticipated across the state, and travelers are expected to flock to the areas where the total eclipse of the moon passing in front of the sun will be seen. This includes northeast Kansas, and parts of Wyandotte County are in the total eclipse path, according to a NASA map.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has estimated that about 200 million people live within driving distance of the eclipse’s path of totality, the officials stated. Others will be able to see a partial eclipse.

Highway officials said they expect an increase in travel time and traffic. Travelers should be patient, avoid distractions and practice safe driving habits, the officials said.

“We understand the excitement around the solar eclipse, and we encourage Kansans and our travelers to enjoy this rare opportunity. We do, however, want you to remain safe as you take the opportunity to witness this occurrence,” said Lt. Adam Winters, KHP public information officer.

Officials encouraged travelers to follow these tips to drive safely on Aug. 21:

• Allow plenty of travel time to reach a safe place for viewing, as roads may be congested due to increased traffic.
• Do not take photos or wear the eclipse sunglasses when driving.
• Do not pull over to the side of the highway to view the solar eclipse. Find a location off the highway and right-of-way to observe and/or take photos.
• If you are driving during the eclipse, turn on your headlights and do not rely on your automatic headlights.
• Expect the unexpected: watch out for other drivers and pedestrians.
• Plan ahead for fuel needs and always remember to keep your gas tank full during long trips.

It is also important to be prepared in case of emergencies and create a travel safety kit, officials said. Some items to consider for a travel kit may include:

• Non-perishable foods
• Water
• A first-aid kit and any prescription medications needed
• Motor oil
• Antifreeze
• Fuel
• Jumper cables
• Brake fluid
• Windshield washer fluid
• A map

Check the weather and plan accordingly – make sure to dress properly and be fully prepared for potential weather incidents when driving long distances, highway officials stated. For information on road conditions, check out www.kandrive.org or call 5-1-1 in Kansas or 1-866-511-KDOT (5368) in the United States.

– Information from KDOT

For an earlier story, see http://wyandottedaily.com/kck-tourism-officials-preparing-for-solar-eclipse/

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Indictment: Child pornography allegedly found on employee’s company phone

A federal grand jury returned an indictment today charging a Kansas City, Kan., man with producing child pornography, U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said.

Ronny D. Peters, 39, Kansas City, Kan., is charged with two counts of producing child pornography. According to court records, the investigation began when Peters’ former employers called the FBI to report finding child pornography on a company cell phone Peters turned in after he was fired.

The phone belonged to Pop-A-Lock, a locksmith company based in Lafayette, La. The company has franchise operations across the United States and Canada, including Kansas City.

The indictment alleges Peters sexually exploited a minor child to produce videos that investigators found on the phone.

If convicted, he faces not less than 15 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 on each count. The FBI investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Rask is prosecuting.

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Accidents reported on area highways

Traffic update from KDOT: I-435 westbound at Antioch Road will remain closed for attenuator repair until approximately 10 a.m. Aug. 17.

An accident was reported this morning during rush hour on southbound I-635 between Metropolitan and Shawnee Drive.

Another accident during rush hour this morning was reported on northbound I-435 near State Avenue, according to KC Scout.

Later in the morning, a semi fire and a collision on I-435 in Johnson County has closed westbound I-435 near Antioch Road, according to highway officials. Drivers should avoid the area.

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