To address spike in traffic deaths, councilwoman wants city to adopt a new traffic safety initiative

It would bring reduced speed limits, redesigned streets to Oahu.

Councilwoman proposes Vision Zero program to address spike in traffic deaths

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Statewide, there have been 92 traffic deaths so far this year, 32 of which were pedestrians.

With the spike in fatalities, there's a new push at Honolulu Hale to help save lives.

Vision Zero, a different approach to traffic safety, has been adopted in cities across the U.S. and in Europe.

The main message is that all traffic deaths are preventable, and the campaign involves ideas like redesigning streets, managing speed limits, and using technology like speed and red light cameras, so crashes are less devastating.

Honolulu City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi believes these changes could help make Honolulu's streets safer.

"We have to make our city safe so that these accidents can be prevented. It's not just the fatalities, there are a lot of injuries, and those are really a hardship for many people and their families," Kobayashi said.

Kobayashi introduced a resolution to urge the city to adopt Vision Zero strategies.

"Lowering and enforcing speed limits and proper lighting at the crosswalks would help. We should try whatever it takes to prevent these fatalities," Kobayashi said.

The program has been successful in other U.S. cities.

In Seattle, Washington, Vision Zero was launched in 2015 and transportation officials say the city is a safer place.

"Vision Zero really says that humans will make mistakes, and therefore you should design your system to accommodate those issues, so when something bad happens or someone does make a mistake, the result is not disabling injury or death," said Jim Curtin, traffic safety coordinator for Seattle's Department of Transportation.

In 2016, Curtin says SDOT reduced speed limits on almost 2,500 miles of residential and urban streets, and redesigned some of the most deadliest roads by remarking or reducing lanes and adding different traffic signals.

Curtin says the numbers of deaths and severe injuries have dropped since then.

"The trends are going in the right direction. Last year was our second safest year on record, and we're hoping this year to break the mold all together," Curtin said.

Kobayashi says she's hopeful her resolution will be scheduled for a hearing next week in the transportation committee.

“The results seem very positive, so we should learn from other cities and try to do what works here in Hawaii,” Kobayashi said.

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