HONOLULU (KHON2) — This Fourth of July weekend, the Hawaii Department of Transportation is reminding drivers not to drink and drive — and the department is getting creative with its messaging.
The cookie-cutter “drive safe” messages are no longer cutting it for the HDOT, and said they want a message that sticks with people.
Some of the signs on Oahu’s highway overpasses may read “Fireworks are bright, driving drunk isn’t”.
The HDOT spokesman Jai Cunningham said the department is trying to engage the public while sharing the important message of being safe on the road this holiday.
Probably a more effective messaging than just saying please drive safely, and at the same time you’re getting that message out but you’re doing it in a creative way and it tends to stick in people’s heads a little bit more. The bottom line is please drive responsibly, and that means not driving under the influence that means not distracted driving, if we can get that message out however creatively mission accomplished.”Jai Cunningham, HDOT spokesman
The messages on the digital signs are created by HDOT staff and the director gets the final approval. Those signs were also used at the rise of COVID-19, they shared transmission rates and encouraged best practices such as masking up.
They are now widely used for their original purpose, alerting drivers about road advisories.
“Information on the freeway you’re on is the primary reason for the signage but one of the real benefits also is that you’re able to quickly get any sort of safety message out,” Cunningham said. “So if you have an amber alert and if you have a tsunami warning you can also put that up very quickly.”
As of Sunday afternoon, Honolulu police arrest logs showed at least 36 arrests linked to drunk driving since Friday, July 1.
The Mothers Against Drunk Driving Hawaii Victim Services Specialist Theresa Paulette said each of those arrests prevented a possible tragedy.
“It tells me two things, that it’s bad that people are out there still drinking and driving, but we know they do that,” Paulette said. “But it’s good that the police are out there arresting them. And each arrest is possibly saving a fatality or an injury.”
The HDOT said distracted driving, speeding and drunk driving are the leading causes of fatal car crashes.
Drivers can expect more creative safety messages as the year goes on.
“I think it’s a great approach. It’s just a reminder to everybody,” Paulette said. “And then those people can also share those messages with their family and friends when they get home. And it just brings awareness.”
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The HDOT has recorded 60 fatal crashes involving cars, pedestrians and bicyclists so far this year.