Is Hawaii's incredible decline in pedestrian deaths an anomaly or the start of a trend?

Updated: Aug. 8, 2017 at 4:46 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - There has been just one pedestrian death so far this year in Hawaii.

That's a dramatic plunge from 32 statewide last year. And while state highways officials say even one death is too many, they're hoping that a host of education campaigns, policing efforts and more attention walkers and drivers are contributing to the decline.

"We've all got to be pro-active in protecting each other," said state highways Director Ed Sniffen.

Sniffen said the decline in pedestrian deaths could also be due in part to roadway improvements, such as narrower lanes and better lighting.

"We take care of our facilities and make sure that we minimize the safety issues on the facilities themselves," he said. "We would like to make sure that the public understands that the safety has to start with them."

Walk Wise Hawaii's Lance Rae hopes the drop in pedestrian deaths is the beginning of a trend, but he warns the most dangerous months lie ahead.

"The end of the year, November to December, is a time when we see a lot of pedestrian crashes, so that number might increase a little bit," he said.

There were 120 traffic fatalities statewide last year, and that figure includes the 32 pedestrians deaths.

The 59 traffic fatalities so far this year puts the state on pace to meet its goal of no more than 100.

"Our total goal is toward zero deaths. We're always working to make sure that nobody dies on our highways," Sniffen said.

From January through July, Honolulu police issued 6,154 citations for distracted driving, about 100 fewer than during the same period last year.

In addition, Sniffen said citations for jaywalking and drivers infringing on crosswalks have not dramatically increased, so people can take much of the credit for the decrease in pedestrian deaths.

"We're seeing a lot better adherence to the law from both the pedestrians and the drivers," he said.

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