August is Pedestrian Safety Month in Hawaii. And it's coming on the heels of what has been a particularly deadly year so far for pedestrians on Oahu.
According to the latest statistics Honolulu Police Department, there were 17 pedestrian deaths on Oahu so far this year, with eight of those deaths happening in marked crosswalks. There were 14 pedestrians deaths at the same time a year ago, and 10 deaths in 2013.
The latest figures don't include Tuesday morning's death of 70-year-old Dexter Mateo, who was run over while crossing a driveway off Vineyard Boulevard, and the death of a 60-year-old unidentified man who was hit by a car when he cross against the light on Kamehameha Highway in Kalihi Tuesday night.
"Right now with the last two pedestrian fatalities, we now have the same number of pedestrian fatalities that we had in all of 2013," said Barbara Kim Stanton, AARP Hawaii state director.
According to the AARP, Hawaii was already considered the most unsafe place in America for pedestrians 65 and older. And it's obviously getting worse.
"Senior fatalities are on the rise. We're not sure why," said Lance Rae of Walk Wise Hawaii. "We just know overall its due to inattentive behavior, both on the part of the pedestrian feeling comply safe in a crosswalk, and of course, drivers being continually distracted as they drive."
At the busy intersection of Keeaumoku and Makaloa Streets near Ala Moana, Hawaii News Now observed drivers and pedestrians who were distracted with devices.
The increasing number of pedestrian deaths came as Gov. Neil Abercrombie proclaimed August as Pedestrian Safety Month in Hawaii. It's the fifth year for the observance. Officials are redoubling their efforts to educate both drivers and pedestrians.
"You have to make yourself as safe as possible," said Capt. Darren Izumo of the Honolulu Police Department's traffic division, talking to pedestrians. "Use crosswalks when you can. Follow traffic signals."
There are other moves to increase pedestrian safety. At North King Street and Richard Lane, the city has put more lighting at the crosswalk where a man died in June when he was struck by a city bus as he crossed the street before dawn.
"Lighting's going to solve some of the problems, but I don't think it's going to solve all of the problems," said Honolulu City Councilman Joey Manahan, who lives on Richard Lane.