Oahu Pedestrian Fatalities in 2018 Increases: What is Going On?

The Rise In Pedestrian Fatalities Is Shocking.

As a father with a young daughter, and someone who enjoys walking around our office and neighborhood, it is shocking to read about the rise of pedestrian accidents leading to fatalities here on Oahu. The Department of Transportation reports that Oahu has gone from 3 recorded deaths from January to September 2017, to 19 pedestrian-related fatalities for the same period in 2018. This 525% increase is disheartening to say the least. There are some reports, primarily in the news, that fault lies in part to people crossing the street where there is no crosswalk. However, make no mistake, drivers should always be vigilant even where no crosswalks are present.  Also, but for the two that occurred this past Tuesday, they all happened at night.

S. Beretania crosswalk
I walk around the office on S. Beretania to grab a bite and sometimes even I can’t help but feel anxious about crossing the street.

Is Enforcement The Answer?

Is there something that we can do to address this problem on the systemic level? The Honolulu Police Department recently issued a mandate to increase enforcement for both pedestrians and drivers.  However, the question remains, is it really an enforcement issue? As highlighted above, sometimes it is not solely the driver’s fault, but what about other facts? Does the government need to rethink the  streetlights and road markings?

An important part of my job is to ask questions. I spend a lot of time reviewing the facts of our personal injury  cases. I often focus on how my client came to their injures.  If there is a trend in similar cases, I begin to wonder what environmental commonalities are present, and if there is something that can be done. When this logic is applied to societal problems, such as a dramatic rise in pedestrian accidents, there may be outlier problems, but there are always underlying root causes. in the end, enforcement is part of the resolution, but this prompts the question of why is it happening, and at such an increase year-to-year?

Send Me Your Thoughts And Stories.

What do you think is going on? Let me know your thoughts and stories. I bet some of you have had some close calls, and I would like hear from you. Soon, I plan to compile the information and send a letter to the City and County of Oahu and the State Legislature to consider commissioning a study to take a look at this issue, particularly if the trend continues. You can email me at trejur@hewbordenave.com.

Stay safe!

UPDATES TO THIS POST

Update to this post, KHON2 reports (10/5/2018): HPD cracks down on violators to prevent more deaths on the roads

Update to this post, in the Star Advertiser (10/10/2018): Pedestrian Hit By Truck On Pali Highway Dies From Injuries, which is just one day after a similar report of 2 different pedestrian hit-and-run accidents, resulting in the tragic death of one.

Update to this post, KHON 2 reports (2/23/2019): Mayor unveils pedestrian safety measures.

The 7 measures are specifically as follows:

  1. “Look All Ways” Stencils – This effort will begin with stencil installations at 20 locations where pedestrian traffic incidents have occurred (see attached picture). For future installations, locations will be determined by incident occurrence and community need. The initial installation of stenciling will be performed by the Department of Facility Maintenance (DFM). The city will also work with community service organizations (i.e. Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts; Lions Clubs; Hawai‘i Bicycling League; etc.) to assist in stenciling community crossing areas. These group stenciling efforts will be supervised by workers with the Department of Facility Maintenance.

  2. In-Road Pedestrian Safety Delineators – The Department of Facility Maintenance will install 100 in-road pedestrian safety delineators at locations where pedestrian traffic incidents have occurred, and where in-crosswalk installation makes sense. These locations will be determined in conjunction with the city’s Department of Transportation Services (DTS).

  3. Pedestrian Safety Flags – Two hundred high visibility pedestrian safety flags printed with a “Look All Ways” logo will be distributed across urban Honolulu. The priority will be at high traffic intersections, or intersections with recent incidents. Community input will also be taken into account. More pedestrian safety flags will be ordered as the need arises.

  4. O‘ahu Pedestrian Plan – The City and County is currently developing an O‘ahu Pedestrian Plan, which is scheduled to be completed in the spring. The plan will define the steps needed to make Honolulu a more walkable, livable, and healthy city. Walking is the oldest and most efficient, affordable, and environmentally-friendly form of transportation; it’s how transit riders reach their destinations, how drivers get from the parking lot to the front door, and how cyclists get from the bike rack to a place of business. The O‘ahu Pedestrian Plan will evaluate existing conditions and propose/prioritize pedestrian improvement projects and programs facilitating multimodal travel consistent with the city’s Complete Streets Ordinance. The plan will complement the Statewide Pedestrian Master Plan that the State of Hawai‘i Department of Transportation (HDOT) prepared for the state’s highway system in 2013.

  5. Proposed State Legislation – Two proposed bills have been submitted to the state Legislature as part of Mayor Caldwell’s legislative package. One bill focuses on not allowing right turns on red. The second bill discusses red light photo enforcement. While the city hopes both pieces of legislation are passed, the introduction of these measures also help raise awareness about pedestrian and cycling safety. Meanwhile, City Council Chair Emeritus Menor has introduced a bill at the city level that would allow drivers to use their hazard lights when stopped at a mid-block crosswalk.  “Government needs to implement a multifaceted approach that involves a range of solutions,” said City Council Chair Emeritus Ron Menor. “State and City government need to be proactive in exhaustively exploring any and all strategies and measures to reduce or eliminate pedestrian fatalities in the City and County of Honolulu.” Menor has also secured Mayor Caldwell’s agreement to support Resolution 19-32, which asks the administration to work jointly with the City Council to organize a conference, open to the public, focusing on pedestrian safety. 

  6. HPD DUI Enforcement – The Honolulu Police Department is continuing to perform DUI roadblocks, but is also committing to more roving DUI patrols, where officers use patrol cars to pull over suspected drunken or drugged drivers.

  7. New “Look All Ways” PSA Campaign – As part of this larger pedestrian safety initiative, the City and County of Honolulu will be creating a “Look All Ways” PSA that will air on local television and radio.

You can also find a copy of Mayor Caldwell’s announcement of the 7-point package “Look All Ways” on the City and County’s website here.  I want to hear your thoughts and comments, so please feel free to email me at Trejur@hewbordenave.com!

STAY SAFE EVERYONE AND LOOK ALL WAYS!

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