Rash of pedestrian fatalities spur police, city to sound alarms

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Just three months into the new year, Hawaii is on pace to soon top the number of pedestrian fatalities statewide in all of 2017.

On Oahu alone, nine pedestrians have been killed since January.

The figures prompted police officers and city and state leaders to fan out across eight crosswalk locations Monday to wave signs and raise awareness about pedestrian safety.

Statewide this year, 14 pedestrian have been killed on roadways. In all of 2017, there were 14.

Lt. Ben Moszkowicz, of the Honolulu Police Department's Traffic Division, said 18 pedestrians have died on Oahu since Thanksgiving.

"That's 18 brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers that aren't going to be around next year for Thanksgiving and the holiday season," he said.

"The numbers are getting really big, really fast, and if you look at the same period of time, from January to July of last year on Oahu, there was only one pedestrian traffic fatality."

Mayor Kirk Caldwell said residents and visitors need to remember to be mindful of their surroundings and drive with aloha.

"Something has changed, and we're out here to remind drivers: Be careful," Caldwell said Monday. "You're driving a vehicle and that's a dangerous, dangerous thing. If you just are a little more careful and you pay attention and you go slower, you're going to arrive to work and not destroy someone's life and your own life in the process."

State Department of Transportation deputy Director Ed Sniffen said many pedestrian fatalities are attributed to lack of awareness by the driver or the pedestrian — or both.

But, he added, the person behind the wheel has the responsibility to be most vigilant.

"We want to make sure that everybody is more aware of what's going on around them. In the morning, when we start off our day, we're always in neighborhoods where we know pedestrians are going to be around," said Sniffen. "When we come back home in the evenings, same thing. Those are the two most dangerous times because in the darkness it's very difficult to see."

Of the 18 pedestrian fatalities since Thanksgiving, according to police, five of them have been over the age of 65.

And police say three of the nine pedestrian fatalities on Oahu since January have involved individuals who were in marked crosswalks.

"If you're a pedestrian and you're crossing the road and you're in the right and you're in the crosswalk, that's wonderful," Moszkowicz said. "But you don't want to be dead right. You have to make sure that you're looking left, looking right, continue to look both ways all the way across the street."

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