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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


Safety concerns

According to recently received emails, local drivers have serious thoughts on driving safety.

For example, reader C.L. expressed his concerns about pedestrian activity within the streets by writing, “I live in an area of Spokane where the streets and sidewalks are well used by bikes, joggers and folks of all ages out for a stroll.  Most streets have sidewalks and many have received or will receive ramps at corners for easy access.  I continue to witness moms out for a walk or a jog with their strollers using the streets rather than the sidewalks.  Additionally, some moms have ear buds in cutting off surrounding sound.  I have asked two mothers why they don’t use the sidewalks and been told that the streets were easier.  I assume that should this continue a mother and child will be involved in a very unfortunate event.  As you know it’s a numbers game where if you roll the dice enough every combination will eventually appear.”

I agree that those who use the streets for walking, running, pushing strollers or biking are placing false confidence in drivers approaching from behind.  As C.L. says, in a numbers game, people in the streets may eventually encounter a driver who is distracted, drunk or otherwise inept.  I don’t know how they place enough “blind” faith in drivers to believe that all of those drivers will acknowledge and avoid them.

Bikers, runners and pedestrians who use high-traffic roads puzzle me the most.  It seems that if there is an unwillingness to use the sidewalk, or none exists, it would at least be prudent for safety to choose an adjacent, less-travelled road with less vehicular traffic than the main one.

J.C. expressed and wondered, “In your dealings with the WSP officers have you ever discussed the enforcement of bumper height regulations?  The regulations are very clear.  I see many pickups that are jacked up to point that if they were to hit a passenger car front or side they would come through the windshield or side windows.  No amount of airbags would protect the passengers from a direct shot to the head of the front bumper of one of these rigs.  It seems like enforcement of the law would be pretty easy as the trucks are pretty easy to spot (I guess that is the point of the modification in the first place).”

I have found that bumper height enforcement is “spotty” depending on individual troopers.  Each officer seems to have a “pet” group of infractions they regularly look for and enforce. In addition to those individual preferences, the WSP Chief directs emphasis patrols on violations such as cell phone use, left lane abuse, speeding, DUI, et cetera.

I too have contemplated the safety aspects of potential collisions between passenger cars and raised pickup trucks.  It may be worthwhile for those concerned to email Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste to suggest that tall trucks be included in an emphasis patrol monitoring their bumper height.

M.B. pondered, “The November 2015 NHTSA report that stated 32,675 people (about 89/day) lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes and another 2.3 million (about 6,300/day) were injured. It’d be interesting to ask your readers if they think self-driving cars would reduce this number (I think it would) or not.

What do you think?  Will autonomous systems make fewer mistakes resulting in fewer wrecks?

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at