Cops crack down on Rock drivers

Drivers on Rock Road were actually behaving pretty well Wednesday — well, sort of.

Bad habits can be hard to break.

Police handed out more than 40 tickets on Rock Road in the early hours of a 24-hour crackdown on aggressive driving on one of Wichita's busiest streets.

The joint enforcement effort included officers in Wichita, Derby, Mulvane and Bel Aire monitoring their stretches of Rock, as well as the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office and the Kansas Highway Patrol.

"Everyone seemed to slow down a little bit," Wichita police Sgt. James Krok said. "We're getting the message out there — drive safe, slow down, leave a little extra early."

The joint enforcement effort, which ends at 7 a.m. today, is an attempt to rein in road rage and other traffic misbehavior on a street that is one of Wichita's busiest and a headache for every law enforcement jurisdiction it crosses.

"I try to stay off it as much as possible," said Devin Hansen, president of Sunflower Travel at 1223 N. Rock Road.

"I see a lot of accidents in this one-mile stretch that just amaze me," he said. "People just aren't paying attention."

Hansen and several other people who work next to Rock Road have stopped making unprotected left turns on Rock.

"You just can't do it" safely, Hansen said. "It doesn't matter what time of day. I've sat there for five minutes sometimes trying to make a left."

Vanessa Lee, manager of the Alterations by Sarah near Harry and Rock, said she sees "fender benders galore" in front of her store.

"I have no idea why" there are so many accidents, Lee said. "It's like no one ever pays attention as they exit" onto Rock from various parking lots.

"If they'd just slow down and pay attention, it would be a lot better."

Shane Smith, manager of the Buffalo Wild Wings on North Rock Road, said he's seen numerous accidents in front of his restaurant as drivers try to turn left onto Rock Road. Crossing four lanes of heavy traffic is never easy, he said.

"They don't see one another, and 'smack,' " Smith said.

Smith, like Hansen, said he avoids left turns as much as possible — even if it means making four right turns to get around it.

Hansen admits he drives "like an old man" on Rock Road now — no left turns, stick to the speed limit, signal turns early — but he feels like he must to stay safe.

And that, Krok said, is all police want motorists to do on Rock Road: drive safely.