KAPOLEI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu Police and Leeward Oahu residents kicked off the annual "Live and Let Live" campaign Saturday, a long-running effort to remind area residents not to drink and drive during the holidays.
The campaign, also known as "Drive Safe 4 Ewa," began 26 years ago, after a rash of traffic deaths on Farrington Highway along the Waianae coast.
"We had a place we called death row, from Kahe Point to Maili Point. And (accidents) were killing people during the holiday season at a terrible rate on that section of highway," said Wynn Warner, who was a Honolulu Police sergeant in the Waianae station when the program began. Warner helped his commanders implement the program.
The effort also drew in community members, like Bella Oclinaria, who helped co-found the program and is still involved in the effort. "You know, to save even one life is very important," Oclinaria said. "There were a lot of fatalities on the Waianae coast, and I thought this was a life-saving project."
Since its beginning, the concept has spread. Live and Let Live includes sign-waving, which now happens statewide, and not just during the holidays.
"We're carrying this program throughout the summer months when the kids are out of school, graduation season, and whenever we can get out there and signwave and get the message out," said officer Antone Pacheco, Jr., with HPD's Kapolei-Ewa District.
Honolulu Police and residents say the program has worked to cut down on traffic deaths. "I believe that the program has worked," Warner said. "The very first year we put this program into effect, we had zero fatalities along that section of roadway. It has cut down on the number of fatalities throughout the island."
The campaign will include sign-waving events in several places during December, including areas near James Campbell High School, Kapolei High School, Waianae High School, and Nanakuli Beach Park. The signs will remind drivers to slow down, and not to drink and drive.
"That hopefully gets to the driver's mind. Or if a family member's in the car, they'll say "Hey mom and dad, remember what the sign said?' And the message will spread and we'll save lives," Pacheco said.
The effort's kickoff comes as traffic deaths are on the rise. HPD says as of Saturday, there were 55 traffic fatalities on Oahu, compared to 49 a year ago.