Convoluted Republican Attack Ads Undermine Traffic Safety

Evan Manvel

"I was filled with immense fear but also anger at having to chose between driving illegally or taking care of my only son and getting him to a hospital." - Ramiro S.

The Willamette Week is reporting attacks from various Republican candidates on candidates who support a law allowing undocumented immigrants to go through license testing and get driver's cards. That law has since been subject to referendum, and has become Measure 88.

The specific mailer from Sen. Alan Olsen attacked Jamie Dimon with a list traffic deaths involving undocumented immigrants; it is apparently is similar to other mailers attacking other Democratic candidates.

As someone who's worked on traffic safety for years, I appreciate taking traffic deaths seriously, as they are one of the leading preventable causes of years of life lost (roughly 400 Oregonians die every year in traffic deaths). But listing people who died in traffic crashes before this law went into effect is convoluted logic.

Instead, those who could bear some responsibility are those who have pushed to continue the current system -- that prohibits undocumented immigrants from going through the testing needed to get a driver's card.

Under the law, drivers will need to pass Oregon's written and behind-the-wheel driver test, as well as follow current Oregon law regarding proof of insurance.

Without such a law, the incentive is for undocumented immigrants to drive without a license, without a test, without insurance. How is that safer than what Measure 88 would allow?

And that's why groups that work on traffic safety issues, such as the Oregon Public Health Association, Upstream Public Health, Oregon Walks and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, back Measure 88.

The mailer lies further, claiming such driver's cards would give bearers the ability to board an airliner, which is explicitly does not do.

But what's critical is understanding how areas that rely on driving set up no-win situations. Ramiro S., a supporter of Measure 88, notes:

“Late one night, around 2 AM, my three-year-old son started screaming in pain. He was extremely ill and I didn’t know what was wrong. I couldn’t calm him down and he only screamed louder in pain. I was filled with immense fear but also anger at having to chose between driving illegally or taking care of my only son and getting him to a hospital.

Those smearing Measure 88's supporters with the traffic deaths under the pre-Measure 88 system should be ashamed of themselves. Our roads must be made safer; undermining that law undermines safety.

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