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Parkway patrols: Slow down, Snoqualmie police are watching
The car crests the hill doing nearly 50 miles an hour. By the time the driver notices Nigel Draveling, seated atop the bed of his black Snoqualmie Police truck, separated from him by a line of stop-and-go commuter traffic, it's too late to avoid a ticket.
"I lock them first," said Draveling, who lowers his laser radar gun and radios the car's make and license to a trio of other officers in wait down the hill. Moments later, an officer makes contact, ready with a speeding ticket for the 30-mph zone.
The July 25 morning commute was livelier than normal on Snoqualmie Parkway due to Officer Draveling's presence. Snoqualmie police had received several complaints about speeders and aggressive driving on the highway end of the parkway, so the officers set up the first of several speed patrols near the interchange to discourage bad behavior behind the wheel.
That means Draveling and company were ready to hand out $247 speeding tickets to flagrant speeders. All in all, four officer handed out six tickets, one warning and a criminal citation in two hours' work.
Other speed patrols will follow as the summer ends and children head back to school. Those patrols will impress on drivers the need to respect school zones, pay attention to surroundings and most importantly, slow down.
When you drive slower, you see more: "Your eyes will open to everything," Draveling said.
Drivers headed into Snoqualmie also get some attention. Draveling parks on the shoulder of the Parkway, pointing north, and activates his rear-facing radar. The device monitors a stream of drivers doing 40-plus uphill.
A passing white car doing 47 miles per hour gets his attention. He pulls the car over, checks the license, and discovers that the driver's license has been suspended by the state for unpaid tickets. The woman's mouth drops open as Draveling explains that she'll have to call a relative to drive her car, and that a citation is coming in the mail.
Draveling and fellow officers also hear excuses from drivers for their speeds, some believable, others less so; an alleged rush for the bathroom appear to be fairly common. But with one warning issued for six tickets, the officers don't seem to be easily put off.
Draveling said patrols like these make for a safer community. Speed limits are set for a reason. Speed causes accidents, and speeding drivers can't react to changing conditions.
Officers will work the area between 96th Avenue and the highway for a few days, drivers will notice and change their behavior for a while. But ultimately, officers need to keep making the rounds to keep drivers vigilant.
"You keep circling your hotspots," Draveling said. To get the message across, "You have to be out in the public."
Pulling over a car, Draveling angles his vehicle to protect him in case a driver fails to notice the stop.
When you see a police car flashing lights on the roadside, "slow down and change lanes so we can get home to our families, too," Draveling said.