June 16, 2010


By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

School is out, the lake is up and summer is here. And that means that virtually everyone is making plans to take to the roadways every chance that they get to dash off to their favorite summer weekend getaway, whether it be at the lake or to some other destination.
Normally, when people around McKenzie County would pile into their cars, campers or pickups and head off down the road, their thoughts were about how much fun they were going to have camping in the Badlands or at the lake. They loaded up their vehicles, hooked up their campers and boats and headed out.
But traveling to our summer destinations is going to be a little different this year, and probably for years to come, as recreationists are now going to be traveling on more congested roadways as a result of all of the increased oilfield traffic. And the roadways that we are going to be traveling on now are quite simply not in the same driving condition as we remember them a few short months ago. Today, those smooth driving surfaces leading to our favorite recreation spots are now breaking up due to heavy truck traffic and have little, if any, shoulder on which to pull over in the event of an emergency. And in many cases, the highways are now under major rework which can force travelers to face delays, broken and uneven surface conditions or be forced to seek out alternative routes.
When you couple all of the traffic that is going to be wanting to share these state and county roadways over the summer months, it would be wise to keep in mind that the most important thing when we head out this summer is that we arrive at our destinations safe and sound.
For most of us weekend warriors, we are not all that accustomed to pulling boats, campers and other recreational vehicles in heavy traffic. It’s easy for us to forget that our loaded-down pickup pulling a fifth wheel camper and a boat isn’t quite the same as driving down the road in our family vehicle. And the time that it takes for you to bring that vehicle to a complete stop, if you are required to for safety reasons, is a lot longer than many of us imagine.
Gone are the days of the trips to the lake when the vast majority of the traffic was all going in the same direction as we were. We all drove to our destination on Friday evening and then returned home on Sunday. But today, the odds are that you will be meeting as many or more trucks and vehicles in the oncoming lane as you will have to be passing in your lane.
So this summer, or any time that you get out onto the highway, give yourself plenty of time to arrive at your destination and drive defensively. We want everyone to have a safe and enjoyable  summer.