Amid concerning increase in pedestrian fatalities, city ramps up traffic safety efforts

Pedestrian safety month places focus on enhancing technology and helping more homeless victims.
Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 9:14 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 3, 2022 at 10:16 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu police, city transportation officials and the mayor waved signs at a busy Kalihi intersection to mark Pedestrian Safety Month in Hawaii.

But they said there’s much more in the works to increase safety for those on foot on Oahu’s roadways.

According to the state Department of Transportation, there have been 15 pedestrian fatalities statewide so far this year, compared to 14 around this time a year ago.

A more visible segment of the population is making up a higher percentage of those deaths.

“Six of those fatalities have been homeless since January of this year,” said Lance Rae, of the DOT’s Walk Wise Hawaii program. “We’ve noticed an uptick here on Oahu and also on Maui County as well.”

Rae said Walk Wise Hawaii is reaching out to the homeless to make them more aware, as well as more visible at night, when 12 of the 15 pedestrian deaths have occurred.

“They’re looking for a home, and where are those homes? Those homes are usually on the side of the roadway,” said Rae.

Officials said they have been using more traffic calming measures, including the Complete Streets programs on Oahu. There are have also been more raised crosswalks in several areas, including Kalihi, Pali Highway and the leeward coast.

But the city is also looking at an approach which includes red light cameras, and maybe even speed cameras in some spots.

“I’m a big believer in using technology to help mitigate efforts and the same time protect people,” said Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi. “And If I was implementing, we’ll make the necessary investments in the city to do that.”

“We would proceed cautiously with speed cameras, just because we’ve had a previous experience and I think of lot of our island residents don’t have a good memory of the speed cams,” added Jon Nouchi, deputy director of the city’s Department of Transportation Services, referring to 2002′s controversial and unpopular “van-cam” program.

But the red light camera program still has the green light from many Oahu residents.

“While they would not favor the speed cams, a lot of people have been asking for the red light cams because I think you can see people have become a little bit more emboldened in our intersections and charge the intersections when really they could have stopped safely,” said Nouchi.

City and state transportation officials are still working to identify the best intersections for those cameras, as they ramp up their efforts to increase safety for drivers and pedestrians.

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