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Friday, December 8, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Letters to the editor

Daily danger

Are you in control of a potentially lethal ton of moving metal?

Editor, The Times:

"BlackBerry tapping causes car-crunching chain reaction on I-5" [Times page one, Dec. 6] shines a needed spotlight on a critical and dangerous problem for the Puget Sound: distracted drivers who are doing everything but paying attention to the road. Wake up, people; you are driving a killing machine!

As the father of a 15-month-old boy, my heart bleeds for the mother and child who had their lives carelessly and recklessly endangered by the BlackBerry-crazed driver. And I am appalled at the total lack of respect and common courtesy displayed on our roadways by self-centered, distracted drivers like him.

It is time Washington state pass laws banning the use of gadgets while driving and, for that matter, driving under the influence of distraction.

I propose a scaled, three-strikes approach: first offense, a warning on your record; second offense, a hefty fine; third offense, loss of license for a probationary period, in which you are required to take driver education and etiquette training.

It is a matter of public safety and our lawmakers need to act accordingly.

— Mark Orth, Carnation

Have you lost it?

Don't those Puget Sound drivers do the darnedest things? "Have you ever made coleslaw while driving?" [page one, Dec. 7] points out they whip up coleslaw, slip into ski clothes and even e-mail their friends, all while at the wheel. What a wacky, fun-loving group of folks we've got out on the highways! [See also "Dashboard confessions," Times online, Dec. 6.]

I wonder how amusing those drivers would find a phone call telling them their daughter had been hit by a driver who thought it was more important to answer her cellphone than pay attention to rush-hour driving conditions on I-90?

I wonder how they'd chuckle to see the car she'd been in, cut apart so medics could free her?

And wouldn't they just double over with laughter, more than a year later, as she undergoes therapies and treatments to heal.

Yep, that was a knee-slapper of an article.

— Kirby Larson, Kenmore

No stranger to the close one

Given the high number of collisions caused by interacting with "passengers, animals and other objects," I think priority one for the next legislative session should be to pass a one-person-per-car law and banning the transport of all animals.

After accounting for all the various distractions in other categories (adjusting audio, reading, grooming, eating, smoking, etc.), I am curious to know what is tabulated in the "other driver distractions" category that it could rack up such a high total. What, are people juggling on their way to work?

I am glad the statistics point out what I think is a very serious problem. I am constantly distracted by all those "unknown drivers" on the road and the crazy ways they drive.

— JJ (John) Brychell, Kirkland

Enemy mine

Slag in your face

Regarding "Let mine site proceed" [guest commentary, Nov. 30]: Protect our Islands (Vashon/Maury) has been battling a gravel pit for more than eight years. The Japanese multinational conglomerate Taiheiyo Cement, owning Glacier Northwest, has deep pockets and won't let go of our small island. The mining on Maury stopped in the '70s and much has changed. It was a shortsighted business move and it is not our responsibility to make it up to them. What gives this company the right to threaten the sole-source aquifer for families living on Maury Island?

Mining is a source of low vibration; vibration causes damage. Our mining laws are so outdated, there is practically no liability for the damage they cause.

The feeding/resting grounds for fish, sea mammals and fowl are threatened, as is the madrona forest. Arsenic-infused topsoil will be stored on-site, susceptible to earthquakes and mudslides.

Those of you who have traveled, seen and smelled major waterways/harbors — is this the future you want for Puget Sound?

The federal government, Washington state and King County have environmental guidelines/laws, but Glacier Northwest wants an exemption to exploit a sensitive area for — rocks, 65 million tons of everyday rock.

— Donna Moore, Vashon

So hard the kids feel it

The unfortunate reality is that our permitting system is weighted in favor of projects (and corporations). If you don't believe me, why do you think the Sound is in so much trouble?

We are told that the impacts of the Maury mega-mine can be "mitigated," as if that would make it environmentally OK. Mitigation is about minimizing the damage from a very damaging project. Puget Sound has just about been "mitigated" to death!

Scientists on both sides of the argument are investigating this project with a fine-tooth comb, but is anyone looking at its cumulative impact on an already over-stressed ecosystem? In eight years of watching, I have seen little of this larger view.

While millions of dollars in taxes are being pumped into saving Puget Sound, how can we even think of destroying it at the same time? We might as well send our money directly to Glacier Northwest!

Once the forest is cut down, the huge hole is dug, the habitat is compromised, the orcas possibly extinct, will our kids know what we allowed to be taken from them?

— Marnie Jones, Vashon

Get up and fight back

Here is another example of our government giving the green light to a project that will have a huge negative impact on Puget Sound and line the pockets of a few wealthy people against the wishes of a community, all while scientists tell us how the Sound is dying. Will our elected government allow this? It will if we do nothing, and Puget Sound will die.

Corporate interests want you to sit down — will you stand up?

Corporate interests want you to shut up — will you speak out?

Corporate interests want you to shrug your shoulders and accept the inevitability of a deteriorating environment — will you act to protect the world you live in?

We're losing the Sound, the fish are dying, the orcas are going silent, the forests are disappearing. Will greed rule the day while we rue it?

Do something, people!

— Terry Dievendorf, The Sierra Club, Cascade Chapter, Seattle

High command

Peaks in our time

Recently it was noted that it will cost about $30 million to repair the storm damage just to Mount Rainier National Park ["Flooding's toll on national parks: $50M," page one, Nov. 22].

I also noted we are spending about $8 billion a month in Iraq ["Iraq: It's worse than we knew," editorial, Dec. 7].

If you assume a 30-day month, then $8 billion is about $11.1 million an hour. So it will take about three hours of war expense to fix the park.

I vote for the park.

— Dick Swenson, Issaquah

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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