Editor’s Note: A major goal of WBE is to report the news in a “positive” manner. This editorial breaks from that tradition, but no one can be positive all the time.
Many car drivers, isolated in their protective steel boxes, fail to realize how dangerous their high-speed heavy vehicles are. They drive in a way that takes liberties with the lives of those around them in an effort to save time, and prioritize their promptness over the safety of others. We live in a culture in which driving a car is not considered dangerous – a culture that is reinforced by weak laws and the devaluing of the lives of people who choose not to drive.
Many of us have experienced it: you are riding your are bike out on a nice country road and suddenly you see two cars heading toward you, side by side. A driver has decided to pass another car and doesn’t care that you are in the way, or thinks that they can make it without hitting you. The driver has decided that saving a few minutes is more important than the possibility of ending your life.
This is what happened on February 10th when 38-year-old driver Tina Marie Baker tried to pass a car on Highway 99 south of Creswell, sideswiped an oncoming vehicle, and killed cyclist Johnny Cayton in a head-on collision. She was going 15 mph over the speed limit (70mph) and later admitted to being in a hurry and driving recklessly. Her punishment for prioritizing 30 seconds of her life over Cayton’s safety was 30 days in jail, probation, and losing her license for 8 years. I’ve known people who’ve received 30 days in jail for shoplifting. Is Baker’s punishment enough?