In a deadly year on the roads, drivers asked to look out for students as more return to class
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As University of Hawaii and private school students return to class next week, officials are urging drivers to be aware of the traffic ― and of the importance of pedestrian safety.
The message comes during a deadly year for pedestrians.
This time last year, there were 14 pedestrian fatalities. This year, there have already been at least 17.
“We got a lot more people on the road,” said state Highways Deputy Director Ed Sniffen. “A lot of vulnerable users or bicyclists or pedestrians, our kupuna and our keiki are all out there.”
While Hawaii public schools have been back in session, drop-off and pick-up are expected to get even more crowded this week with the return of college and private school classes.
“Regardless of how quick you need to get someplace, relax. Let’s take care, everybody,” Sniffen said.
“We already killed 76 people on the system this year, 21 more than last year.”
According to the Oahu Pedestrian Plan, about 17% of areas in school zones don’t have sidewalks.
Some schools put extra emphasis on teaching their kids to be safe.
James Campbell High School, for example, has its own practice crosswalk for special education students.
”They may not necessarily follow all those rules,” said DeeAnna Henry, a special education teacher at James Campbell High School. “When they’re around the road, please watch them. They’re quick. They dart in.
“Be patient and be kind teaching our kids to understand that gap of safety.”
Henry teaches life skills to special education students. She said drivers need to pay extra attention, especially with the expectation of more cars on the road.
“Anyone who comes down into Campbell knows it’s crazy during a dismissal or arrival time,” Henry said.
Emily Evans, an administrator with DOE’s Office of Facilities and Operations, added that about 3,000 students ride school buses. “When you see that stop arm come out of the school bus, it is required that you stop in both directions,” she said. “There is a $500 fee if you get caught not stopping so prioritize our keiki’s safety.”
The city, meanwhile, said that 2% of roads are labels as “high pedestrian injury corridors.”
But those account for 60% of pedestrian fatalities.
“The Oahu Pedestrian Plan was finalized in July 2022 with a key focus area of the plan is improving pedestrian safety around schools,” said Daniel Alexander, with DOT.
“To this end, the plan proposes walkway projects to complete critical gaps on school zone routes. The new plan will help guide city investment in building these priority school zone walkway projects in the coming years.”
For more information on the Oahu Pedestrian Plan, click here.
HIGH PEDESTRIAN INJURY CORRIDORS:
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