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Spokane drivers: Better than Seattle, worse than Boise

They may run stop signs and attempt left turns from the far right lane, forget to signal when they turn or leave the signal on for miles after making it. But in news that will shock many motorists in and around Spokane, the city's drivers were rated as better than the national average.

Spokane drivers were ranked 45 out of the nation's 200 largest cities, Allstate Insurance Co. said in its annual tabulation of claims data. They average 10.3 years between collisions, slightly better than the national average of 10 years.

So, for bragging rights: Spokane had the best rating for major cities in Washington. Vancouver was No. 82. Tacoma No. 144 and Seattle way down there at No. 160. Drivers in the Emerald City are about 29 percent more likely to  have a collision than the nation as a whole, and average a collision about every 8 years.

But don't get a big head, Spokane. Boise ranks No. 2 in the nation, edged out by  Fort Collins, Colo., for safe drivers. Boise drivers average almost 14 years between collisions, and are 28 percent less likely than the nation as a whole to have a collision.

Worst drivers in the country? Allstate says they're in Washington, D.C., where drivers are more than twice as likely to have a collision than the nation as a whole, and drivers average less than 5 years between collisions. No wonder the Secret Service doesn't let presidents drive anywhere.

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CdA School Safety Overhaul Begins

Coeur d'Alene School District 271 transportation shop technician Lynn Porter, center and foreman Joe Mares, left apply #22 to a bus on Thursday. The district is installing large numbers on the top of its school buses so police can easily find a bus if it's hijacked. (SR photo: Kathy Plonka)

The tragedy of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., has slipped from the headlines, but the lessons learned from the mass shooting of students and teachers last December are translating into millions of dollars in security improvements at Coeur d’Alene schools. The school district is upgrading door locks, surveillance cameras and fencing, tightening building access and updating emergency response plans at all 17 of its schools. Even the bus fleet is getting attention: new digital radios with GPS navigation, security cameras and large numbers affixed to the roof to help police track down from the air any bus that goes missing/Scott Maben, SR. More here.

Question: Do you feel better re: safety of local schools as a result of this security upgrade?

Survive spring break: 10 tips for outbound college students

WATER SPORTS — With 3.7 million college students getting ready for a well-earned spring break, history tells us some of them will get hurt or killed, especially around water.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers offer these Top 10 tips to help you avoid being a statistic on a lake, stream or ocean.

No. 10: HELP (Heat Escape Lessening Position) can save your life in cold water. This position is where your knees are drawn up to your chest with your arms grasping them together helping retain body temperature until you are rescued. Wet clothing will not weigh you down in the water because water does not weigh more than water, so leave your clothes on.
 
No. 9: Diving could be a neck-breaking experience; never dive into unknown waters.
 
No. 8: Any beach that has breaking waves could have the potential to develop rip currents near the shore that can pull even the strongest swimmers out to sea.If you get caught in one of these narrow rip currents, swim parallel to shore until the current stops pushing you out.
 
No. 7: Never overestimate your swimming abilities, especially in open waters.
 
No 6: Swim only in designated areas.
 
No. 5: Never swim alone.
 
No. 4: Swim and boat sober.
 
No. 3: If you are boating, wear a life jacket even if you know how to swim and don’t expect to enter the water.
 
No. 2: Choose the right life jacket for you and wear it. The new inflatable life jackets are lightweight and the belt-pack style of inflatable life jacket will still allow you to get a great tan.
 
The No. 1: tip that could mean the difference between life and death during your spring break: Don’t let anyone talk you into anything that you don’t want to do. Peer pressure can kill you.

Child safety event focuses on ‘sexting’

The Spokane Police Department and Spokane County Sheriff's Office are co-hosting an event Wednesday to raise awareness about child safety.

The “Take 25” national campaign calls for parents, guardians and educators to take 25 minutes to talk to their children about safety.

Law enforcement officials will offer tips, conversations starters and safety-oriented activities Wednesday at the Spokane Valley Mall from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The emphasis will be on sexually explicit text messages, or sexting.

“51% of teen girls say pressure from a guy is a reason they send sexy messages or images; only 18% of teen boys cited pressure from female counterparts as a reason,” according to a police news release. “Law enforcement officials encourage parents to maintain communication with their children by staying calm, being supportive and learning as much as possible about the situation. Talking, sending or forwarding a sexual picture of someone underage, even if it’s you, it’s a crime. Teens have been removed from sports teams, faced humiliation and have been in trouble with the law.”

Take 25 was started by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in honor of National Missing Children's Day, which is Wednesday.

The campaign comes as Spokane police detectives are investigating several child pornography cases, including two that resulted in searches at two addresses last week.

A 22-year-old man was targeted in a search at 5202 S. Ferrall St., and a 17-year-old boy was targeted during a search at 2917 E. Hoffman. Neither suspect has been arrested, but detectives say they are confident charges will be filed for pornography on computers, camera and other digital devices seized during the searches.

The material will be forensically examined before charges are filed.

“Each photo depicting a minor engaged in sexually explicit behavior will add an additional charge,” Officer Jennifer DeRuwe said in a news release.