Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

Time for more rumblings and grumblings ...

Think while you drive!
   I can't think of anything as senseless as the accident that killed Lacy Barnhouse and put Rachel Dunaway in the hospital last Friday. These girls are obviously among our best and brightest, and nothing will ever erase the grief their family and friends are enduring at this time. We all weep with you.
   I don't know why it takes a tragedy for everyone to start pointing out the indiscretions of drivers.
   It is probably an over-generalization to say we are all careless drivers from time to time but I think it happens more often than we would care to admit. You're late for work so you drive a little faster through the neighborhood. You're late for an appointment, so you roll through a stop sign or run a red light. The kids are waiting at the school to go to practice and your boss wanted to talk to you, so your mind is not on driving when you finally get in the car.
   Compound this type of behavior with all the distractions we deal with when we drive.
   The dangers of using a cell phone while driving has become a big topic of discussion and many cities and states have passed laws, or are considering banning the use of a phone in a car. Personally I think there are many other distractions that are worse than a cell phone.
   For example:
   What happens when a smoker drops a lighted cigarette while driving?
   How can a driver be in control of a car with a sandwich in one hand and a drink wedged between the legs and a bag of fries on the seat?
   When there is a dog lying over the arm of a driver how does that person expect to turn quickly when someone steps in front of the car?
   How many accidents happen while the driver is reaching for a tape or CD?
   When the car is full of people talking or children crying, how can a driver concentrate on the road ahead?
   The point is, driving is a serious business. It requires complete concentration and knowledge of the vehicle. Do you know how long it will take to pass a slow moving vehicle or how far your car will travel after you slam on the brakes? What should your do when your tire drops over the edge of the road or how your vehicle will respond when you swerve to avoid a deer?
   This is not an appeal for stronger law enforcement, or more laws. It is an appeal for common sense and knowledge. We have the laws and the law enforcement officers who do a good job of enforcing the laws, and neither is going to stop tragedies like the one we had last Friday.
   All drivers, especially younger ones, need more experience and knowledge. They don't seem to understand the consequences of their behavior. A vehicle does not make a driver invincible; rather it is a two-ton weapon that too easily can injure and kill.
   We can't mandate that people be required to think and understand the consequences of their driving behavior -- that's only something you can do yourself.
   Yet another driving Pet Peeve:
   It is not considered healthy to internalize irritants. With that in mind, it is time to once again bring to the debate a topic of some importance ... at least to some people. That topic is the apparent belief of those motorists who assume that all pavement is reserved for vehicles only.
   Pedestrian safety is not a new objective, and now the movement is getting teeth: the state Department of Transportation and law enforcement agencies are getting into the act. Armed with a proclamation signed by Gov. John Kitzhaber, 22 police departments across the state will begin conducting special safety enforcement operations to crack down on motor vehicle violations. The impetus of this is a child who was hit by a car and has permanent brain damage.
   These operations will involve plainclothes police officers posing as pedestrians trying to cross a busy intersection. When drivers don't obey the state law regulating pedestrian safety, they are pulled over and either given a warning or a ticket. Tickets can range as high as $175.
   There is a good chance that the Prineville Police Department will not be one of the 22 agencies receiving federal funding for this operation. Too bad. At $175 per ticket, during any typical day along Third or N. Main streets it would not take long to show a profit. Maybe it will take someone getting struck by a car while in the cross walk, but sooner or later this pet peeve will get people's attention. I hope.