Honolulu is home to one of the nation’s highest concentrations of people over the age of 65 and the highest percentage of residents over 85.
That trend is expected to continue for several decades and will impact pedestrian safety.
According to the Department of Health, there were 19 pedestrian deaths on Oahu in 2015, nine of them involved people over the age of 60.
“National Highway Traffic Safety data indicates that once again Hawaii leads the nation in the fatality rate for pedestrians ages 65 and older,” said Bruce Bottorff of AARP Hawaii. “This is not something that we take any amount of pride in.”
2016 has already been a tragic year. An 84-year-old Waianae man died after he was hit by a vehicle on Farrington Highway.
“The urgency of this situation is driven in large part by the fact that we have a rapidly aging population,” said Bottorff.
In 2010, one in five Hawaii residents was 60 years or older. In less than four years, that number will grow to one in four. It’s one reason Honolulu is part of the World Health Organization’s Global Network of Age Friendly Cities and is preparing for rapid population aging and urbanization.
“In 2016, we are looking for the implementation of roadway improvements that will hopefully make things a lot safer,” said Bottorff.
Those improvements include better street lighting, lane marking and retiming of crosswalk signals.
“The real danger times tend to be at dawn and at dusk, so lighting and clear markings are in everybody’s best interest,” said Bottorff.
It’s also important to continue to educate with programs like Walk Wise Hawaii and AARP’s driver safety program, as well as police enforcement of laws in place.
“They are preventable and really it’s incumbent upon us as a community to make sure that we address the issue as urgently as we possibly can,” said Bottorff.