No turn on red? Honolulu mayor wants to change a traffic law on Oahu

Some are for it, but others say it’ll worsen traffic.
Hawaii state lawmakers are considering a major change to Oahu's driving laws
Hawaii state lawmakers are considering a major change to Oahu's driving laws
Updated: Jan. 22, 2019 at 8:35 AM HST
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Some are for it, but others say it’ll worsen traffic.

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii lawmakers are considering a major change to Oahu’s driving laws.

In a city where traffic is ranked among the worst in country, Honolulu’s mayor is proposing to ban turning on red lights island wide.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s spokesman Andrew Perreira said the idea is to make it safer for pedestrians.

Some say it would create a driving nightmare, while others agree with the mayor.

“It’s going to be very inconvenient if he stops it. It needs to be easier for the flow of traffic," said Tasha Davis, who is visiting from California.

Texas visitor Erica Barnett said the right turn is necessary because Oahu roadways are confusing.

"When we couldn’t turn, we would have to go blocks just to get back to where we needed to be," Barnett said.

House Bill 185:

“prohibits drivers of vehicles in a county with a population greater than 500,000 from making any turns while a traffic control device facing oncoming traffic displays a red signal.”

It was introduced and passed its first reading at the state Legislature on Friday.

No hearings on the bill have been scheduled yet.

The proposal comes at a time when the city has seen a recent spike in pedestrian fatalities — and some pedestrians appreciate the proposal.

“The mayor and I agree totally on that. I got hit in an intersection on that exact situation. This woman was turning right, stopped, didn’t look around, came through, I’m in the middle of the intersection, the light is for me, not her and she didn’t even get a ticket,” said Alaska visitor Phil VanDaff. “The police were called, EMT. It cost you guys a lot of money to take care of me,” he said.

Kailua resident Valentin Gabaon frequently walks with his 9-year-old daughter. He said many times, drivers don’t stop for them when they are in crosswalks.

"I think it’s great to have no right turn on red,” he said. “It will prevent hitting pedestrians.”

Others are open to the idea but are not entirely convinced.

“In a city that ranks at or near the top of dangerous cities for pedestrians … you can make all the laws you want, but until drivers care about the safety of pedestrians, it’s not going to do much good,” said downtown Honolulu resident James Busch. “I think overall, I would support at least a pilot program.”

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