August is pedestrian safety month in the state of Hawai’i, and it couldn’t come at a better time.
The state is on pace to break a 16-year record for pedestrian fatalities in a year, a mark that was set in 2018. Department of Transportation data was only available dating back to 2003.
According to the DOT, Hawai’i has had 28 pedestrian fatalities in 2019 after a record setting 44 a year ago. The state is also on track for pedestrian deaths to match occupant motor vehicle fatalities. The only other time that happened was 2018.
“Unfortunately, as we look across the nation pedestrian fatalities are on the rise and the number one reason is inattentive behavior.” Walk Wise Hawai’i coordinator Lance Rae said.
According to CNBC, national pedestrian fatalities have soared by 41% since 2008. That time correlates with the rise of smart phones.
Rae believes that pedestrian as well as driver inattention has led to the spike in deaths.
“Don’t assume that you’re safe in a cross walk, there is no invisible force field that’s going to stop a distracted driver from hitting you. On the reverse side is drivers always pay attention to pedestrians.”
The DOT has implemented raised crosswalks in certain areas that they believe are ripe for a dangerous mix of pedestrian traffic and speeding.
“Any sort of traffic calming measure, any sort of infrastructure that gets traffic to slow down is really really important.” Rae added.
“We have to remind pedestrians though that just because that cross walk is raised, doesn’t mean that the car is going to stop.”
Another issues is speeding.
“We’re also speeding more where people are not following the speed limit.” Rae said.
“If we just slowed down, more people would be alive today.”
Walk Wise Hawai’i has held awareness events throughout the month of August. They will be in Waikiki from 9:00-11:00 am at the Waikiki Community Association. Kahala Mall will host Saturday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.