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Whether you think you need to or not, stop at the sign

If you moved to Tigard from inner-Southeast Portland, you might feel like you found the best of the best in Oregon, considered by many the best state in America.

The move idea started for me about the time my son was born on Southeast 11th. After his birth, the funny urban myths of rabid pit bulls roaming the neighborhood, or a choking Doberman, weren't so funny.

The house around the corner with metal bars over the windows doing business all night through a delivery slot in the front door wasn't funny either.

What kind of childhood does this promise? Not good. So you make a change. Embrace the change is what I heard, and there's lots of it.

When you move to the suburbs, remember this: You're not the first to leave the inner-city. Still, you'll find long-term residents in your new town whose parents and grandparents all went to the local schools your kids will attend. When you tell them where you used to live, they'll look at you like you just crawled out of the sewer, then ask why you ever lived in such a place.

Just agree with them. Tell them how glad you are to find a place where the yard isn't a public toilet, where the paper delivery comes in so strong it chops your plants down, but you get to read it first.

Do that and you've laid a great foundation for your family. It means you get a chance to raise your kid with good schools in a supportive environment with other parents doing the same.

It doesn't mean you get a break on the street. The usual law and order still applies here, in spite of your ecstatic feelings about Tigard. You may guide the future of America with your parenting skills, but it doesn't mean you get to skate on the rules everyone else lives by.

Start with the stop sign and speed limit sign. A stop sign is a habit. Get it. When you see a red octagon with white block lettering, STOP.

When you pull out of your new cul-du-sac, the stop sign at the end of your road means the same as it does in Times Square or a red light on Broadway.

STOP!

But, you can see three blocks in every direction?

STOP!

It's four in the morning and you're heading out?

STOP!

It's a new stop sign and you don't know why they put one there?

STOP!

Not every stop sign saves the life of a child chasing a ball into the street, but the habit will.

Imagine the moments between stopping, or thinking about stopping, or rolling halfway through before stopping. Record books are full of champions who won by 1/10th of a second, or 1/100th of a second. You'll never read about reaction time in news stories of the drivers hitting pedestrians, but it has to play a part.

Sometimes it's an elder driver issue.

If you are concerned about someone else's driving, find a way to approach them. If you see your grandpa's car with new scrapes and bumps, and he doesn't remember what caused them, find a way to talk to him about driving.

A good way is sharing a driving class to set the bar of good driving. A bad way is you getting a speeding and failure-to-stop ticket one week apart on the same road at the same time of day. You can't talk about a problem driver when you're a problem driver.

You worry about someone else's hazardous driving while you coast down a hill seemingly unconscious? With two strikes toward a suspended license, who needs your driving advice? You may love Tigard, but Tigard doesn't need a loose cannon on the local roads.

Once you choose your city, you bond to it. You will raise your family there and support the heck out of local business. The last place you want to be is traffic court.

Make a difference that matters, set a good example.

For good measure, read this to everyone you know over 50 and ask them if they know how much a failure to obey the stop sign ticket is. For the record, it's $295.

(Soapboxes are guest opinions from our readers, and anyone is welcome to write one. David Gillaspie is a Tigard resident.)