After 106 traffic deaths last year, lawmakers push for drastic changes to roadway laws

Updated: Jan. 24, 2020 at 6:32 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A push for safer streets seems to have gained some traction at the Hawaii State Capitol.

Hawaii’s Department of Transportation reported 106 traffic fatalities last year, and lawmakers say they have had enough.

Several initiatives have already been introduced during the new legislative session to help reduce the number of fatalities. Those measures include cameras that capture drivers running red lights, and zero-tolerance for policies for drinking and driving.

“Every year, you hear of a horrific pedestrian accident that’s occurring at an intersection because someone did not stop at a red light,” said Rep. Scott Saiki, the Speaker of the state House of Representatives.

Saiki says he wants cameras installed at the ten most dangerous intersections in Honolulu.

Those cameras would automatically record anyone running a red light, and a ticket would then be mailed to the address associated with the license plate number.

“There could potentially be a bench warrant for someone who doesn’t appear or who doesn’t respond to the ticket," Saiki said. “And if you have a bench warrant, potentially there could be some jail time.”

To crack down on those who drive drunk, other lawmakers are proposing a “zero-tolerance law."

Right now, adults can be charged with drunk driving when the alcohol in their blood is 0.08% or higher.

Zero tolerance means any amount of alcohol is illegal. Senate Transportation Committee Chair Lorraine Inouye said she introduced SB2510, but that doesn’t mean she supports it.

“I did introduce it for the purpose of hearing the measure,” Inouye said. “I have an open mind.”

Inouye also introduced a measure that would lower the legal limit to 0.05%.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving doesn’t have a position on zero tolerance yet. However, the founder of Hawaii’s chapter said they would support lowering the limit.

“I think that the 0.05 is enough of a decrease from where we are now, 0.08. That will get people’s attention,” said Carol McNamee. “This is something that many countries have, the 0.05, across the world. So, we’re kind of behind. So, this is nothing extreme or extraordinary. It’s really the average, the mode for most of the world.”

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