March 23, 2001 11:00 pm

Legislators should put

brakes on raising limit

One of the most boring drives along Interstate 84 is between Pendleton and the breaks of the Columbia River near Arlington. Semi-trucks and cars have one thing in common when it comes to this area driving excessively fast.

A little more than a year ago, the Oregon State Police ran a series of saturation patrols and found truckers going in excess of 80 mph, while some cars were topping the 100 mph mark. In such cases the ability to control or stop a vehicle is questionable at best.

Currently there are several legislators, including Sen. Randy Miller, R-Lake Oswego, and Sen. Gary George, R-Newberg, who would like to lift the lid off speeds in several parts of rural Oregon. Miller has been pushing the speed cause for years, but term limits may have finally caught up with him. Georges rationale seems to be that since people are already driving over the posted 65 mph limit on Interstate 5, then why not make it legal?

We say both senators are out of touch with the reality of driving. We have to wonder when either of them last drove a vehicle in excess of 90 mph, either on dry or wet pavement. The drivers reaction time is shortened dramatically. And if you were to cross over the divider into oncoming traffic, the results would be compounded beyond belief.

What is unfortunate is that, not only are they encouraging higher driving speeds, but Rep. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, is supporting the idea of raising the speed limit on two-lane roads. Such a practice defies logic. Most of Oregons two-lane highways were built to handle much less traffic, and speeds that would not exceed the old basic rule (55 mph). Anyone who has first-hand experience of seeing two vehicles collide on a two-lane highway, striking each other in excess of 55 mph, knows the impact is most often deadly.

In the case of highway speeds, whether freeway or two-lane roads, Gov. John Kitzhaber has openly said he would veto this kind of legislation, but now says he will discuss the issue. We agree with Sen. Bev Clarno, R-Redmond, who has said she will not support the legislation.

We hope Miller, George and Knopp get the message, that pushing forward legislation that will encourage drivers to go too fast is a dead issue.

They should see the reality and move on to legislation that is worth debating.

Share your views

Have an opinion thats different from ours, our columnists or our letter writers? Write it down and send it in. The Observer encourages reader input through letters and guest columns.

Almost everything is fair game for a comment The Observer, local issues, state issues, national or international. Please write!