By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Whatchamacolumn: Enforce speeding, plus intersections

Local residents wasted no time this month advising McMinnville Police Department about where to focus new speed enforcement efforts.

State grants are helping MPD finance enhanced enforcement of laws related to distracted driving, DUI, seat belts and speeding. With all that added attention to roadway safety, perhaps the city also could put an added spotlight on dangers at local intersections.

Our story about current plans for a local crackdown on speeding has more than a dozen online comments with recommended enforcement areas; an announcement on the MPD Facebook page carries about 60 reader comments related to speeding in McMinnville. Areas of concern include streets around the high school and other schools, Hill Road, Cypress, Fellows, Riverside Drive, Wallace Road, Second Street, 99W, Baker, Davis, Fenton and Westvale streets, to name a few.

So, drivers beware: Speed limits are 25 mph in residential areas, 20 mph in school zones, 25 mph in the Three Mile Lane bridge construction zone, and otherwise as posted. Motorists with lead feet — or just inattentive to speed — will get city driving lessons similar to what others learned over Labor Day weekend while speeding through the Sheridan-Willamina zones of Highway 18.

Perils of speeding are magnified at intersections, where an estimated 40 percent of vehicle accidents occur. The risks are greatest at many city intersections that fail the detailed “Clear Vision Area” law by blocking visibility of safety signs and approaching traffic.

Ground plantings and overhanging limbs are common vision obstructions around town. Parked vehicles often are sight obstacles, particularly downtown, when resting too close to intersections and rising too high to allow reasonably clear vision for drivers and pedestrians. Signs and various utility installations also can block clear vision.

Those situations are easy to spot and relatively easy to confirm — the city ordinance requires clear vision areas through a 30-foot triangle at residential intersections, a 15-foot triangle at commercial/industrial intersections, and a 10-foot triangle at all driveways. Drivers paying close attention to those measurements may be amazed at how many problem intersections exist in town.

Reported statistics say that about 30 percent of accidents involve speeding; about 30 percent involve alcohol; and again, about 40 percent occur at intersections. And while it’s great to have millions of Oregon dollars devoted to statewide programs of enhanced traffic enforcement, many law enforcement departments are inadequately staffed to take advantage of all those grants.

Here’s hoping it pays off with greater roadway safety in McMinnville and Yamhill County.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.


Web Design and Web Development by Buildable