As death toll rises in Hawaii, a warning for anyone who goes out on the road

Local News

With the weekend finally here, the Department of Transportation wants you to be safe because an alarming number of people have died on our roads this year.

When the state launched its traffic safety awareness campaign back in March, the total number of deaths on our roads was 20.

Six months later, that number has skyrocketed to 80, with the latest occurring Friday afternoon in Kailua.

Compared to the same time last year, the number of traffic fatalities across the state is up by eight.

“When someone drives under the influence or distracted, that is no accident, it is a choice. One bad decision behind the wheel can impact a family for life,” said Director Jade Butay, Hawaii Department of Transportation.

“We ask people to remind their friends and family, especially younger drivers, about safe driving. Speak up if you think someone shouldn’t get behind the wheel or if you are in a car and the driver starts to text,” said Deputy Director Ed Sniffen, Hawaii Department of Transportation Highways Division.

The DOT says while it’s encouraged by the fact that fewer passengers and bicyclists have been killed, the number of pedestrian fatalities is 84 percent higher than the same time last year.

According to Walk Wise Hawaii, the number-one reason for pedestrian accidents and fatalities is inattentive behavior from both drivers and people crossing the street.

While you can’t control what drivers do, there are steps you can take to make crossing the street safer. 

It’s not just enough to stop and look both ways. Making and maintaining eye contact with the drivers as you cross is something many folks don’t do.

“Pedestrians need to stay alert and shouldn’t assume cars will stop for them,” Sniffen said.

Last year, a new law went into effect to help cut down on distractions by making it illegal for you to look down at an electronic device while crossing the street. If you’re caught, you could be fined up to $99.

Meanwhile, police across the state continue to crackdown on drunk drivers through checkpoints and regular traffic enforcement.

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