Safe roads important to quality of life | Don Brunell

Any realtor will tell you people looking to buy a home want good schools and safe neighborhoods. They also look for decent roads for when they head to the mountains or the beach during holiday weekends, such as Memorial Day or July 4. They want to know that if they are in an accident, someone will respond quickly to help them.

Any realtor will tell you people looking to buy a home want good schools and safe neighborhoods. They also look for decent roads for when they head to the mountains or the beach during holiday weekends, such as Memorial Day or July 4. They want to know that if they are in an accident, someone will respond quickly to help them.

While Washington needs more money to build new highways and repair existing roads, streets and interstates, one area in which our state excels is emergency response.

In our state, if a vehicle is stalled in the middle of the road, there is a good chance that within minutes, a state trooper or incident response truck will be there to clear the roadway and protect drivers and passengers.

If there is a collision on an interstate in Washington, you’ll see a sea of flashing red and blue lights from the State Patrol, aid cars and other emergency vehicles.

That’s not the case in other states. For example, if you have a fender bender in neighboring Oregon, lots of luck.

This actually happened recently. A family member was on her way to work on Interstate 5 in Portland. Just beyond where I-405 merges with I-5, a pickup truck hit her car from behind.

Our family member and the pickup driver managed to move both vehicles to the shoulder of the interstate. I got to the accident a half hour later and a Portland police officer pulled up just behind me.

Fortunately, neither driver appeared to be seriously injured. The police officer examined both cars, asked if our car was drivable (it wasn’t), checked for leaking fluids, asked if I had called a tow truck, lit a flare and left the scene. No police report, no accident report, nothing.

After more than two hours, another Portland police officer stopped, asked what had happened and if a tow truck had been called. When I said yes, he asked for an estimated time. I told him the dispatcher told me 45 minutes.

He immediately called the towing service the police department uses and within 15 minutes our cars were off the interstate shoulder, and we were on the way to the emergency room to get checked out.

The point is, citizens need and deserve a well-staffed professional state patrol and emergency response system. Oregon’s state police force is about half the size of Washington’s, even though Oregon is a larger state.

There is a noticeable difference in state trooper presence between the two states. In Washington, the State Patrol actively enforces speed limits, aggressive driving, construction zone safety, seat belt usage, and cellphone and texting violations. In our state, reckless or intoxicated drivers are caught and punished.

That’s because over the years, Washington governors and legislators have made highway safety a priority and kept our State Patrol strong. Since its modest beginnings with six motorcycle officers in 1921, the Washington State Patrol has become one of the premier law enforcement organizations in the nation with 1,600 investigators, support personnel, crime lab technicians and patrol officers. Each day, some 600 officers patrol our highways to help keep our roads and citizens safe. In contrast, budget cuts in Oregon have hurt that state’s police presence.

While traffic accidents will happen, it is comforting to know that in Washington, the response is swift and public safety is the highest priority.

Having made that point, the best of all worlds is not to have an accident in the first place. Hopefully, this July 4, people will slow down, drive safely and stow their cellphones until they get to their destinations.




More in Business

Streamlining regulations helps Americans compete

The cost of regulations is a key American competitiveness issue. It is a major reason our companies re-locate to other countries and our manufacturers and farmers have difficulties competing internationally.

Railroads implementing positive track

While the investigation continues into the deadly AMTRAK derailment near Dupont, the clock continues to tick on the implementation of Positive Track Control (PTC). The deadline is Dec. 31, 2018.

Keep the holiday spirit all year long | Don Brunell

During the holidays, our thoughts naturally turn to giving — not just giving gifts, but donating our time and money to charities, disasters and community programs.

Finding balance in occupational licensing

Recently, the Institute for Justice (Institute) determined state licensing barriers for lower-income workers and aspiring entrepreneurs not only hurts people trying to establish themselves in a profession, but annually drives consumer prices up by $203 billion.

Remember 1993

Twenty-five years ago, business took a beating in Olympia. The swing to the left in the 1992 general election was swift and potent. It drove higher costs to employers and more government regulations.

Remembering Ed Carlson, Vietnam POW

Since last Veteran’s Day, Ken Burns’ in-depth documentary on the Vietnam War has aired. It is a powerful reminder of an unpopular war in which many “baby boomers” fought and died.

Rural prosperity essential to Washington

While Seattle is growing rapidly, our rural areas continue to struggle. They don’t have the corporate giants such as Amazon, Microsoft and Boeing creating jobs and economic opportunities. Farms are predominantly family-owned.

Amazon’s plan reminiscent Boeing’s Chicago move

Last year, Seattle Times aerospace reporter Dominic Gates wrote about the similarities and differences between Boeing’s corporate office move to Chicago and Amazon’s plan for a second headquarters.

LiveLocal98022 meeting cancelled

Bob Green, the night’s speaker, notified the organization he couldn’t attend due to an illness.

Expanded Panama Canal among challenges for Washington Ports

The $5.4 billion spent to expand the Panama Canal is paying off for East Coast and Gulf of Mexico seaports; however, it is putting more pressure on the Northwest to remain competitive.

Players taking a knee hurting the NFL | Don Brunell

On a recent Saturday afternoon in Portland, a young woman stepped onto the playing field at the beginning of the University of Montana vs Portland State football game and started singing our national anthem. She immediately drew a blank on the words and briefly stopped, but as she started apologizing, the fans spontaneously took up the singing.

New metal collecting machine may clean up contaminated waters

There is a new machine being tested in Montana which could decontaminate toxic mine tailings while recovering valuable precious minerals for everyday use.