Letters to the Editor for May 7, 2020

More consequences for distracted driving needed

On April 11, my husband and I were on our daily walk to get outside and enjoy some fresh air. We are in quarantine just like everyone else because of COVID-19.  

We were crossing at a downtown intersection in Washougal (Washougal River Road and “C” Street.) We waited for the walk signal and started across the street. We were inside the crosswalk, halfway through, when my husband suddenly jerked me toward him and yelled at the top of his lungs, “Whoa, whoa” putting his hand up. I didn’t see the car: the driver turning into us was going way too fast and didn’t even see us, not until she heard my husband yell and looked up from her phone. The driver turning left into the crosswalk was completely oblivious that we were even there! Why? She was too busy texting while driving!

It was only by the good grace of God she missed us. If it hadn’t been for my husband’s quick action of pushing me forward, she would have hit me.

I will say, the driver did apologize by yelling, “I’m sorry, so so sorry” out of her open car window; but she continued on her merry way, while we stood on the other side of the street in shock. The driver wasn’t sorry enough to slow down, put down her phone or to stop and see if we were OK. Driving was secondary.  Obviously, it was a very important text. So important she forgot she was driving a car! And almost killed two people!

Distracted driving is extremely dangerous. I could quote all kinds of statistics here, but that won’t change anything for these young drivers who think they can do it all while driving. Fines for distracted driving, and increasing insurance rates after a crash: is this methodology really working?

Stricter penalties and reporting drivers who are texting and driving in real time could work. New safety programs, measures and methods need to be implemented now. For example, drivers who have been involved in an alcohol-related crash/fatality are required by law to attend classes and complete a series of safe driving courses before they can drive again. Why should it be any different for a distracted driver?  

You see signs everywhere about “Stay home, save lives” during this coronavirus crisis. How about a sign by WSDOT that says, “Stop texting and driving – save lives”?

How about a few more billboards and more of not less, public service announcements about it.

When I was 16 years old, I rode a contraption called the “seat belt convincer.”  And it convinced me to wear my seat belt while riding in a car.  What will convince these younger drivers to stop? What will change this kind of behavior? Accountability. Consequences for their actions. Counseling for addiction. Implementation of driving courses. Videos on actual crashes (fatalities) of teens texting and driving and the consequences. They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, then a video of real people getting injured or killed may help flatten this curve of behavior. 

Driver’s education classes need to be reinstated into all schools for students just learning how to drive, and a special course specifically designed just for distracted driving.  

COVID-19 is a true threat to our health, but a daily threat to all of us is getting out onto the highway and seeing distracted drivers and not being able to do anything about it.     

This has got to stop! 

Sonya Wassman,

Washougal


Parent impressed by Camas educators during COVID-19 crisis

I am a parent of a second-grader at Helen Baller Elementary. I am impressed and have great respect for the Camas School District, and staff at Helen Baller. Since mid-March, as this current global crisis started to take real effect on the schools, the Camas School District was proactive and got in front of what was (is) a never before, unplanned for and grave situation.  

I cannot imagine being in their roles and commend the level of communication, humility and professionalism: sending out weekly, sometimes twice weekly emails; making themselves available to students and parents; providing Wi-Fi, meals, contacts and resources, all while trying to ramp up online learning and, of course, take care of their own children and families. 

My hope is we can adapt and grow as a community from this experience into greater service to each other, and a deeper level of compassion.

Sheila Schmid, 

Camas 

 

Heritage Trail trail work appreciated

Thank you to Jerry Acheson and the Camas Parks Department for all the recent maintenance work on Heritage Trail. Looks great!

Tim and Cyndee Hein,

Camas

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