September 02, 2001 11:00 pm

Failing to yield to pedestrians can sting a driver like a bee. Some drivers found this out when the La Grande Police Department staged five pedestrian sting operations during August.

Check out the statistics. The stings included 872 attempts by pedestrians to cross streets, and 756 successful yields by drivers. In other words, an average of 87 percent of drivers yielded.

Thats not bad. But we all could do better.

The stings included 62 citations and 54 warnings issued. In most cases when drivers were stopped, they said they didnt see the pedestrian. A few said they didnt think they had to stop. Only one said he (or she) was on a cell phone.

Drivers need to pay attention and when in doubt yield to pedestrians. In our hurry-up society, it is difficult to remember our civic duty. With road rage running rampant, the common thing is to get angry angry at pedestrians if youre a driver, angry at drivers if youre a pedestrian. But anger at pedestrians or drivers is not a constructive use of energy.

The police departments approach to dealing with the problem of course was not thrilling to those caught and ticketed. But it did serve the purpose of calling attention to the need for drivers to be alert and for pedestrians to be careful. The main purpose, of course, is to prevent injury and death, which can result when a human body gets hammered by a two-ton automobile.

Most drivers showed respect for the law, even if some crosswalks in La Grande are not clearly marked. And the sting proved a good reminder for increasing our driving safety. The long-term consequences of allowing drivers to scoff at the law include a breakdown of community. Instead, we need to preserve the friendliness, honesty and other values that make Northeast Oregon so livable.

The sting program has forced more personal accountability to both pedestrians and drivers. The important thing when driving is to use good judgment. The same is true when you are a pedestrian.

Following traffic laws, and respecting each others rights, will keep our community strong.

Celebrating labor

Today we are celebrating Labor Day, honoring the working men and women of Northeast Oregon, and all of America.

The holiday is a reason to celebrate the fruits of hard work and the ability in this country to pursue dreams. Whether you are a doctor or lawyer, engineer or teacher, logger or farmer, whether you work today or not, you should take a moment to celebrate your accomplishments over the past year.

The combined effort of everyone makes America work.