HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It’s well known that the H-1 Freeway between Waipahu and the Radford Overpass is a popular one for officers looking to catch speeders.
And a Hawaii News Now investigation found that that stretch is — by far — where the most drivers get ticketed on the island.
That might be changing, though.
Police Capt. Ben Moszkowicz, head of HPD’s traffic division, said he’s looking into ways to spread out enforcement “more evenly" to create "a different perception.”
Moszkowicz says people need to drive safely and carefully everywhere and not just the areas where they think officers are going to be.
Since January, 27 percent of Oahu’s speeding tickets came from District 3, which spans from Moanalua to Waipahu.
Of those, 11,000 tickets, or 62 percent, were issued on that particular stretch of freeway, far more than any other freeway on the island.
The change for HPD comes during one of the deadliest years on Hawaii roads — and the holiday season, where the risk of danger on the roads increases, isn’t even in full swing yet.
But Hawaii News Now research shows most of the injury accidents and pedestrian deaths happen on neighborhood streets, not the freeway.
On Farrington Highway in Mokuleia, where 76-year old Dr. Eugune Chin was killed in September, only 47 tickets were written in the same time period.
And on King Street, where multiple crosswalks are unprotected by traffic lights, only 57 speeding tickets were handed out.
One reason more enforcement isn’t done in those areas, patrol divisions typically handle the neighborhoods, and those officers are busy answering 911 calls. On the freeways, it’s officers from the Traffic Division mostly doing the enforcement work.
Trying to reach more drivers, HPD is making another change, one that drivers will be relieved to hear.
Officers will be issuing more written warnings.
While Moszkowicz doesn’t use the term ‘quota’ he says federal grants, which fund much of the freeway operations, require justification, usually in the form of citation numbers, but now, those numbers can include written warnings, or contacts too.
“The goal isn’t anymore, in 10,000 hours, issue 35,000 speeding tickets. It’s in 10,000 hours, to conduct like 50,000 contacts,” Moszkowicz said, “A contact is an officer conducting a traffic stop for an equipment violation, or a moving violation, or a speeding violation."
It’s then up to the officer to decide if the driver’s actions warrant a ticket or if they just need to be reminded to fix the issue or slow down.
Either way, it doesn’t put the grant in jeopardy.
“Everything with a grant has to be documented,” said Moszkowicz. “It has to be audit proof, so we’ll ask the officers to basically issue a written warning, which is basically, doesn’t go on anybody’s record but it shows our grantor that we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing.”
Attorney Jonathan Burge, who specializes in traffic cases, says it relieves the pressure on police officers to hit a certain number, “A good stat for them to have,” he says it’s also good for the department, since ticket writing is one of the most negative things police are forced to do.