Sting opens eyes to pedestrian safety

June 04, 2001 12:00 am

Drivers in Woodburn might be lighter in the wallet and heavier on the brake from now on. A recent sting operation netted 26 drivers who fail-ed to stop to let pedestrians cross at a busy intersection. Motorists were handed $210 tickets.

The fast-growing Western Oregon town, about a half-hour drive south of Portland, has averaged 20 pedestrian-related accidents a year for the past three years. The accidents included the deaths of a mother and daughter crossing Highway 214.

While La Grande and other towns in Northeast Oregon have not had any serious car-pedestrian accidents lately, the sting should be viewed as a wakeup call for drivers. Motorists need to know anarchy does not reign on our streets.

Drivers need to be educated that when pedestrians want to cross in a marked crosswalk, they have the right of way and drivers are supposed to yield. And in many Union and Wallowa county towns, crosswalks are not always kept painted. In these cases, drivers need to be looking ahead and show common courtesy to those on foot.

Pedestrians, to be sure, are not always blameless in car-pedestrian encounters. In the often less busy Northeast Oregon streets, jaywalking is common. Pedestrians should at least walk to an intersection to cross in a marked crosswalk, when that is an option.

It would be better to tackle this problem before a senseless death or serious injury occurs here. If some drivers continue to show a lack of common sense, local law enforcement may want to try a similar sting here. Theres nothing like a hefty fine to speed up the educational process of motorists who have become lax.

Not crossing the line

Chalk one up for House Speaker Mark Simmons.

Senate President Gene Derfler, R-Salem, has supported a bill that would put a $40 surcharge on the price of studded tires to help recover some of the damage that occurs to highways.

The bill is going nowhere, thanks to Simmons, R-Elgin, who has drawn a line in the sand, or lets make that snow. He stands opposed to a tax on personal safety.

Rep. SIMMONS knows that some Eastern Oregonians will shy away from buying studded tires if theres a $40 surcharge. That could place them in jeopardy on snow and ice.

The surcharge might be fairly popular in Western Oregon, where about the most that drivers face in the winter are hydroplaning conditions on freeways due to heavy rains.

Simmons decision to not sell out to the west- side legislators on studded tires is to be commended. Were happy to see hes not just House speaker, but is striving to keep his trust with the people back home in the 58th district.