HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Hawaii Police Department reports 33 traffic deaths this year, and it’s seeing a trend among those crashes.
“It’s not the traditional alcohol that people consumed in the past, it’s been mostly drugs,” said Sgt. Thomas Koyanagi, Hawaii Police Department Area II Traffic Enforcement Commander.
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Hawaii police say, 42 percent of those traffic fatalities were due to drug impairment. That number is expected to rise with 19 fatalities pending toxicology reports. Police say, all drugs can restrict eyesight and slow reaction time.
“It’s not only just regular illegal drugs, it’s prescription drugs and over the counter medication. People need to realize that, you know, you need to read the recommended dosage on the medicine that you’re taking,” Koyanagi said.
It’s not just Hawaii Island seeing these types of crashes. Honolulu police reports nine fatal crashes involving drug impairment this year.
This comes as Mothers Against Drunk Driving is expanding its messaging ahead of the holidays.
“Too often people think it’s not me; it doesn’t apply to me and yes, it does,” said Theresa Paulette, Mothers Against Drunk Driving Program Manager and Victim Services. “So people just really need to be aware of what they’re consuming, whether they be legal or illegal drugs and not get behind the wheel of a car.”
According to the Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office, there are stiffer penalties for those who are highly intoxicated by alcohol; but when it comes to illicit or prescription drugs, drivers can also face manslaughter and negligent homicide charges.
The Hawaii Department of Transportation reports 105 traffic deaths this year so far compared to 94 for all of 2021.
“105 friends and family members killed on Hawaii roads already this year,” said Ed Sniffen, Hawaii Department of Transportation Deputy Director Highways. “The Hawaii DOT reminds drivers that your awareness and attention are required to prevent more deaths. There is no room for drunk or drugged driving in our State. Please enjoy the holidays and drive responsibly”
As the holiday approach, motorists can expect more enforcement on the roads.
“Some guys might think, ‘hey, I haven’t been drinking and they’re not going to get me. When you do the walking turn and the one leg stand, somebody under the influence of drugs no matter what it may be and depending on how much they’ve consumed, they’re going to show signs of impairment on those performance tests,” said Koyanagi.
Police statewide are asking drivers to be responsible and do not be the reason for a family’s tragedy.
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“They can say sorry to their face, but it’s never going to bring that person back to life,” Koyanagi said.