HONOLULU (KHON2) — Monday’s pedestrian death marks the 83rd fatality this year statewide. While that’s down slightly from last year, officials are urging caution, especially as we head into the holiday season.
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Of the 83 traffic deaths so far, 19 of them are pedestrians, and eight of those are homeless. The Department of Transportation said it’s a problem, especially on Nimitz Highway, and the state has been working with other agencies for solutions.
“When pedestrians or bicyclists show up in our areas where drivers don’t expect them, especially in areas where it may not be lit for pedestrians, and when people are wearing dark clothes, it’s very difficult for the drivers to react,” said Ed Sniffen, Hawaii Department of Transportation Director.
“They just walk right out in front of traffic, totally oblivious to what’s going on around them and you’re not expecting that as a driver,” said William Hankins of the State Highway Safety Committee.
The Institute for Human Services said it tries to educate the homeless about pedestrian and bicycle safety, but if they’re mentally ill or have serious drug problems, then they ask the court to force them to get treatment.
“In some instances, it’s really important that we do medicate them for just the reason that you raised they can’t even know when they’re in danger, crossing against traffic,” said Connie Mitchell, Institute for Human Services Executive Director.
The state said speeding is still the biggest problem, which is responsible for 60% of the fatal crashes. Officials are asking drivers to be extra cautious as we head into the holiday season.
“The last two months of the year, it can get really high these fatality numbers, when there’s a lot of drinking and driving, when there’s people not aware of their surroundings, just asking the public to please take into consideration everyone’s safety during this time,” said Sniffen.
Experts added that it’s the time of year when people are more stressed, and we’re living in a world where there are more distractions now than ever.
“Your cell phones, all electronic devices in your car, the computer systems, the LCD screens, and all these things that can distract your attention for a second can end up in somebody getting killed,” said Hankins.
The city also sent a statement asking drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists to look out for each other as we head into a busy holiday season. Slow down. Look both ways. Always be aware. Move with aloha.