Benton County Pioneer Life

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Pioneer life in the Benton Co. WA area

Pioneer Attacks Modern Drivers/Halt Carnage, His Plea

Tri-City Pioneer
Tri-City Herald, Sunday, 1 April 1962

There are bloody crimson stains upon the highways that no amount of tears can wash away. There are bodies bent and crippled that will never be strong again. Many of the young, the old and middle aged will go through the remainder of their lives handicapped by injuries sustained through the careless action of some driver. There are not sufficient funds nor the trained personnel of skilled patrolling officers to properly police our highways. The highways are too small to drain off the flood of traffic that overflows them. Safe driving speeds depend upon the driving conditions of the highways. Whether it is dry and safe or wet and slippery, or the traffic is light or heavy.

The Washington Highway Department is doing a splendid job of posting the driving conditions of the state’s highways. If the drivers would only obey them fewer accidents would happen. Any campaign that would awaken these drivers to the dangers of highway traffic would be beneficial. If some program could be thought out that would encourage more early morning driving would also help, as this would afford a longer peak-[bad?] usage of the highway each day.

The operation of late model cars is so easy that the driving does not require sufficient labor to keep the driver alert. The cars glide along with such ease the driver is not prepared for any sudden contingency that arises. He finds himself in a situation similar to the old pioneer whose unsuspecting pony shied at something. The lackadaisical manner in which many drivers drive their cars and the terrific speed at which they travel are perhaps the main cause of accidents. More stringent examinations for drivers licenses might raise the driving standards of Washington auto drivers. We place a blank and white zebra stripped suit on our convicts while less than ten percent of them have caused a human death. How would it compel each Washington driver who has been found guilty of causing an accident that resulted in a human death, to wear similar striped coveralls or other garb of scorn while driving on the state’s highways? Something jolting and awakening must be dealt to these offending auto drivers that will cause them to mend their vicious, lazy, selfish ways. Perhaps the state could place a front and rear sign on these recalcitrant drivers’ automobiles that would warn the driving public of their dangerous driving records.

The State of Washington protects its blind by allowing them to carry a white safety cane, which we all honor and highly respect. Could we place some brand of Cain on these vicious individuals who by their carelessness maim the careful and innocent users of our state highways? If the drivers can’t govern the speeds of their automobiles, it would not be too serious or expensive a problem to place an automatic governor on any auto. If the modern auto driver enjoys the automatic gear shift to increase his speed he perhaps would enjoy an automatic governor to limit his speed. Some safety engineers argue the modern automobile is not built for safe, sane speedy economical transportation—that it is built primarily for sale—that the main sales pitch is still speed and power. Then when the going gets too rough for you to stay aboard by “scratching leather” and using your cinch hooks, just hobble your stirrups and tie yourself on with a safety belt and say, “Saint Peter, here I come!”

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