Don’t drink and drive: Oahu traffic fatalities up compared to 2019


HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Honolulu Police Department (HPD) is reminding everyone to drive responsibly as Hawaii enters 2021.

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There were 51 traffic fatalities on Oahu in 2019, according to HPD. There have been 54 fatal collisions in 2020 as of Thursday, Dec. 31.

On this New Year’s Eve, a mother who lost her son to a drunk driver nearly 30 years ago is sharing her story with the hopes that no one will drink and drive.

“I was at work, and I got a call that Brian had been hit,” said Theresa Paulette.

Paulette’s worst nightmare occurred on Sept. 2, 1992

“When he was 15-years-old, he was hit by a 69-year-old man who had been arrested six times for DUI, and he was killed,” Paulette said. “It was just four blocks from home, and it devastates the family — it devastates a mother, and the pain never really goes away.”

Paulette’s son Brian would have been 44-years-old if he were alive today.

The mother of two dealt with her grief by helping others. Paulette works as a Victim Services Specialist with Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

Paulette says New Year’s Eve is known to be one of the worst nights of the year for DUI’s.

According to the Honolulu Police Department’s Traffic Division, HPD arrested approximately 3,700 motorists in 2019 for impaired driving. The Department made just over 2,100 arrests in 2020.

Oahu’s roadways were deadlier compared to last year despite the lower numbers in 2020 for impaired driving arrests.

Acting Captain James Slayter tells KHON2, “Although impaired driving arrests are down, the devastation they cause remains. In 2019 there were 51 Traffic fatalities on Oahu’s roadways. We believe that alcohol, drugs or a combination of both were factors in more than 1/3 of those fatal collisions. So far in 2020, we have already seen 54 traffic fatalities. Impairment appears to be a factor in almost half of this year’s senseless tragedies.”

Paulette said MADD Hawaii is notable to explain the increase in traffic fatalities.

“Especially at a time when there’s fewer cars on the road, and the bars have been closed. We don’t know exactly what’s happening and I don’t think anybody does… We could speculate,” Paulette said. “But again, it’s never okay to drink and drive.”

Paulette’s message is simple. She hopes no one else will have to start 2021 with the same unbearable pain she has been dealing with for 28 years.

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