Bars are closed and people are driving less, but Oahu’s roads aren’t any safer

Updated: Oct. 22, 2020 at 5:34 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Bars are closed on Oahu and there’s far less traffic on the roads. But that doesn’t seem to have made the roads any safer.

In fact, the number of people killed on Oahu roads this year is up slightly compared to 2019.

According to Honolulu police, 42 lives were lost in crashes from Jan. 1 and Oct. 20. That’s up by one compared to the same time in 2019.

In those numbers are several deadly trends. Data from police sources shows fatal crashes involving alcohol have risen 33%. Meanwhile, deadly crashes tied to drug use jumped 60%.

Speeding has also played a role in close to half of this year’s fatal collisions.

“Unless it happens to you, you can’t conceive the depth of the sadness and the grief that the families and the victims go through,” said Carol McNamee, the founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving Hawaii. She added that it’s frustrating drivers seem to be forgetting their message.

There have been 42 deadly crashes on Oahu so far this year.
There have been 42 deadly crashes on Oahu so far this year.(Hawaii News Now)
Deadly accidents tied to drug use jumped 60 percent in 2020.
Deadly accidents tied to drug use jumped 60 percent in 2020.(Hawaii News Now)

“We have enough tragedy in the world and in our country and in our state because of COVID,” said McNamee. “It’s a shame to add more fatalities, more injuries, more people in the hospital.”

It’s a trend that extends far beyond Hawaii.

According to the National Safety Council, there was an estimated 20% jump in deadly crashes nationwide during the first six months of 2020, despite stay-at-home guidelines.

“I guess common sense tells you people are drinking at home,” said Councilman Tommy Waters, chairman of the Public Safety Committee. He said he plans to take up the issue with Honolulu police.

“Ask what their opinion is. Why this is occurring. What’s going on,” he said.

HPD declined to do an on-camera interview with HNN for this story.

Instead Maj. Calvin Tong, commander of the Traffic Division, said in a statement that the top contributors to traffic fatalities are speeding, impaired driving, and inattention.

“For everyone’s safety, we ask that drivers slow down, never drive impaired, and look out for pedestrians,” Tong said. “We also ask pedestrians to pay attention when crossing streets and to make sure that drivers can see them. Doing these things would help to reduce injuries and deaths.”

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