Hawaii County Police Chief Harry Kubojiri has issued a personal plea for all Big Island motorists to drive with extreme caution, as traffic fatalities so far this year have already surpassed the totals for all of last year and approached the totals for all of 2010.
As of August 8, 24 people have died on Hawai'i County roads this year. That compares with 22 deaths for all of 2011 and 27 deaths for all of 2010.
Police analysis of the traffic fatalities during the past 2 ½ years shows that the following substances have been factors in the following number of fatal crashes:
- Alcohol - 35 (30 drivers and 5 pedestrians)
- Prescription drugs - 21 (20 drivers and 1 pedestrian)
- Marijuana - 17 (16 drivers and 1 pedestrian)
- Methamphetamine - 6
- Amphetamine - 4
- Cocaine -1
In many cases, multiple substances were factors in the same crash. The above figures don't include impaired passengers who may have contributed to traffic fatalities. In some of the more recent crashes, police have not yet received toxicology results to determine whether dangerous substances contributed to the tragedies, so the substance count could increase.
Other contributing factors in the fatalities were speed (23) and not wearing a seat belt (25) or a motorcycle helmet (13). The victims in the fatalities ranged from 6 months old to 88 years old.
Chief Kubojiri reminds members of the public to arrange for a designated driver if they plan to drink alcohol. He urges motorists to remember when they get behind the wheel of a vehicle that they and their fellow motorists are operating lethal machinery.
"Try to anticipate erratic driving and be mentally prepared for unexpected dangers," Kubojiri said. "Practice safe, defensive driving and help reduce needless loss of life. Together, all of us can make a difference as we travel our Big Island roadways."