HONOLULU (KHON2) — Whether it’s by car, moped or even scooters, the Hawaii Department of Transportation is seeing an alarming increase in traffic deaths. There’s been 70 so far this year compared to 52 during the same time in 2021.
“We are seeing a lot more fatalities on the neighbor islands, especially like Hawaii Island, which is kind of alarming,” said Shelly Kunishige of HDOT.
Maui County has seen a dramatic increase with 13 traffic deaths this year compared to 16 for all of last year. Hawaii Island has recorded 25 fatalities so far, nearing the total for 2021. The most recent, a 15-year-old boy thrown from a vehicle on Mamalahoa Highway Monday.
“During the pandemic, we had lower volumes of traffic and we saw an increase in people speeding and some of the driving behaviors got more risky,” said Torey Keltner, Hawaii Police Department Traffic Services Program Manager. “So with the higher volumes of traffic now that more people are driving and traveling, some of those behaviors have not diminished.”
HDOT reports Hawaii Island has already doubled its pedestrian fatalities since last year. On Oahu, there’s been seven pedestrian fatalities this year so far. Now, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi is proclaiming August as pedestrian safety month to remind pedestrians and motorists to look out for one another.
“We have the most innocent of people who could find themselves in something they deeply regret just by not being careful enough to watch out for pedestrians,” said Rick Blangiardi, Honolulu Mayor.
According to HDOT, four out of seven pedestrian deaths were houseless individuals on Oahu and two out of four on Maui. HDOT is working with partners on houseless outreach. HDOT will also install about 59 raised crosswalks statewide to help slowdown cars and make pedestrians more visible.
Meanwhile, Honolulu police will be out enforcing traffic laws.
“One fatality in my opinion is one too many we want zero so all of our officers are always out there enforcing and giving citations educating the community,” said Thomas Billins of the Honolulu Police Department.
As Labor Day and the holidays approach, officials remind motorists and pedestrians to keep each other’s safety in mind.
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“Hawaii has a reputation of having high incidents of pedestrian accidents so all of us need to work together to protect our kupuna and keiki,” said Roger Morton, Department of Transportation Services Director.