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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
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.
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.
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.