Opinion

Officers can hear studs a mile away

The article on the front page of the Valley record regarding Initiative

715 caught my eye. I will say right off the bat that I am in favor of the

initiative, so there is a bias in what I am about

to say.

I can recall years ago when I first moved west from Eastern

Washington that alongside the highway were small white crosses placed wherever

there had been a fatal accident. I never verified it, but I believe that at the

time the State Highway Department (now Department of Transportation)

placed them at the sites. One cross for each death, so sometimes there would

be two or three at a site due to the number of deaths in that one crash.

There was a site east of Cle Elum and west of Ellensburg where over

a few years of driving that road, the crosses went from one to seven,

one at a time. I drove that part of Interstate 90 (then along the banks of

the Yakima River, two lanes, as opposed to I-90 today). Frequently, and

after they went to three, I always slowed down approaching the area. All

seven were on the westbound lane side, and I often wondered why so many

deaths [had occurred] right there. A few months later, I was slowed for

road construction at the site. They were cutting away some of the hill

behind the crosses, putting in some drainpipe and regrading that part of the

highway. I never saw an additional cross set up there.

Then all the crosses disappeared along the highways of the state. I

do not remember ever hearing why. Other states still do it, but this state, for

whatever reason, ceased the practice. It bothered me because, quite frankly,

I was a better driver when reminded from time to time of the potential

cost of a second of inattention, a little too much speed. Not that I feel that I

am any less a good driver today, but a reminder from time to time never hurts.

The additional major consideration is that family and friends can

be reminded of the loss, have a marker to commemorate their loss, and

[provide] a wake up call for the rest of us. If but one life is saved due to such

a marker, by getting one to slow down or become more attentive to their

driving, it will be worth the effort.

If the initiative passes, and I hope it does, I would add a word of

caution. When placing such a memorial, be sure to park safely, well off

the road, and walk a ways, if need be, to place it without getting yourself

or someone else hurt in the process. I will sign the petition and encourage

others to do the same.

May I also offer my thoughts and prayers to the Blount's over their

loss, and anyone else who has suffered a similar loss. I fear some of those

who have left us this way were friends of mine as well.

PPP

Speaking of driving and highways, again I remind you that the last

day for studs is March 31. Don't forget to make the change, as the fine is

stiff, and somehow officers on patrol can hear those studs from a mile away

in a stiff breeze.

PPP

Thought for the week: If you see someone with red puffy eyes that

look like they have not slept for some time, they have not been crying or

coming home from a wild party. It is spring, and allergies are kicking some

people to death. As for me, my eyes can be seen from a block away like a

neon sign. Have pity please.

Preston News Notes author,

Bill Hebert, can be reached at

P.O. Box 918, Preston, WA 98050.

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