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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Using cruise on ice is a ticket to slide



 (The Spokesman-Review)
(The Spokesman-Review)

Sometimes you just need the feel of the gas pedal under your foot.

Particularly when the road is icy or wet.

“Getting There” reader Dave McChesney wants to remind people not to use cruise control when driving conditions are poor, forwarding e-mail about one woman hydroplaning in a cruise-control mishap.

The heading of the e-mail message: “Everyone should know.”

Although unfamiliar with that specific incident, Washington State Patrol trooper Mark Baker agreed that drivers shouldn’t use cruise control on ice, in snow or in heavy rain.

Driving without cruise control gives the driver more awareness of conditions, Baker said.

“If you break traction, it’s easy to take your foot off the gas,” he said.

But with cruise control, drivers might not know something is wrong until it’s too late.

Belting it out

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is singing the praises of primary seat-belt laws like Washington state’s, under which officers can pull drivers over for no other reason than that someone in the car isn’t wearing a seat belt.

The institute says that such laws have reduced driver deaths by 7 percent because more drivers and passengers buckle up than in states such as Idaho where seat-belt tickets are issued only after people have been pulled over for some other reason.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, states with primary seat-belt laws had 84 percent compliance compared with 73 percent in other states.

The insurance institute estimates that 700 lives could be saved each year by instituting primary seat-belt laws in every state. In Idaho, it estimates 81 lives could have been saved since 1996.

Many civil libertarians oppose primary seat-belt laws, but they might be fighting a losing battle. All the publicity on this subject is reminiscent of earlier campaigns for seat-belt laws and for lower driver blood-alcohol limits. And we all know what happened there – the laws were changed.

One call does it all

Call 511 to get road information.

That’s the only number drivers in Washington state need to obtain construction, mountain pass and other travel information.

The Washington state Department of Transportation is transferring people who call the (800) 695-ROAD number to its 511 service.

But the department won’t be discontinuing the 800 number in the near future because it’s the only number out-of-state travelers can use to get the road information.

Southwest adds Pittsburgh

If there’s one thing a Spokane traveler knows, it’s that people in Spokane love Southwest Airlines.

Well, good news for SWA buffs. The airline has added Pittsburgh to its list of destinations. The bad news is you probably will have to endure four or five flight legs to get there.

No word yet on schedules or rates.

Fair warning

The Spokane Police Department will conduct its emphasis patrol this week along the Thor and Ray corridor on Spokane’s South Hill.

Police will be patrolling those streets between Second and 29th avenues looking for speeders and motorists not wearing seat belts.

The speed limit there is 30 mph, but many cars easily reach speeds of 40 mph on the long stretches between traffic signals.

Keep an eye on that speedometer.

In hot coffee?

Coffee giant Starbucks launched a potentially dangerous holiday ad campaign in Boston last year.

The campaign featured fake cups of Starbucks coffee stuck on the tops of taxis. According to the Boston Herald, some motorists have sped alongside the cabs, honking and pointing to the cups.

Hope they didn’t spill their coffee in the process.

Free from parking tickets

Freedom to park isn’t what the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was talking about, but that’s what downtown visitors will get today.

But you’d better have coins ready the rest of the week, when parking-meter enforcement will be back.

State driver’s licensing offices also will be closed today.

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