Wednesday, November 25, 2015         

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Celebrate safely and arrive alive


Dashing through the snow might not be a problem in Hawaii, but dashing between traffic certainly is at some Oahu hot spots.

Especially this time of year, when the holidays increase our errands as well as our distractions, it can be a dangerous time to be out and about, particularly as a pedestrian.

So we applaud transportation officials for instituting preventative measures, such as the new pedestrian-activated warning signal at the wide South King Street crosswalk near Times Supermarket, between Pawaa Lane and Hau­oli Street. To catch drivers' attention, pedestrians activate the signal for an overhead yellow light that flashes for 90 seconds to allow a safer crossing.

This isn't an invisible force field, of course, so pedestrians must still keep alert crossing the street, just as drivers need to be cautious when approaching a crosswalk. But the flashing lights are a welcome pilot project to raise everyone's attention level and, hopefully, help prevent accidents such as the one that critically injured McCully resident Gwyne Isa at that very crosswalk five years ago.

"That whole corridor on King Street has actually experienced a high number of injuries, but that particular crosswalk we've been looking at for years," said Jackie Boland, director of outreach for AARP Hawaii.

Some 35 pedestrian injuries on South King Street between Kalakaua Avenue and University Avenue have been recorded from 2007 to 2011.

When it comes to preventable incidents, though, pedestrian accidents aren't the only things to be aware of out there.

This being the holidays, parties are sure to include alcohol. Use your common sense: Do not drink and drive. You don't want to be the cause of someone's injury or death, let alone your own. Unfortunately, 2012 has been a bad year, with DUI involved in the deaths of several young people.

On March 25, five people, ages 19 and 20, were killed on Maui's Kula Highway; the 21-year-old driver had a 2011 DUI conviction. Just days later on Oahu, a 3-year-old boy was killed, and his mother and three siblings injured, when a drunken driver plowed into them at a Mahaka bus stop. Last month, a Campbell High School teen died in an Ewa Beach crash between two SUVs; the driver of her vehicle was critically injured and reportedly drinking.

Such incidents are serious reminders about the tragic consequences of bad decisions — but again, largely preventable. In the interest of public safety, police will be out this holiday season enforcing traffic laws against drunken driving, speeding, cellphone use while driving and for seat belt use.

In this last weekend before Christmas, the weather might remain wet and the roads slick. Last-minute shopping and errands will need to be done. Congestion will increase, while tempers get shorter. But for your sake and others, take care to slow down, be considerate of others, and celebrate safely.

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