Last year's tally of fatal accidents matched 2012's, HPD confirms
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jan 3, 2014
LAST UPDATED: 1:31 a.m. HST, Jan 3, 2014
The 57 traffic fatalities recorded on Oahu's streets and highways in 2013 equaled the number of people killed on the road in 2012, the Honolulu Police Department reported Thursday.
HPD's District 8, which runs from Ewa to Kaena Point at the end of the Waianae Coast, saw 15 fatalities, the most on the island. Nine of them, including last weekend's triple fatality near Tracks Beach, occurred on the stretch of Farrington Highway from Makaha to Kahe Point. The highway is the main thoroughfare on the Waianae Coast.
The second-highest number of traffic deaths occurred in District 5, the Kalihi District from Punchbowl to Salt Lake, where there were 11 people killed, five of them on Pali Highway and three on Likelike Highway. The third-highest total was the 10 killed in District 3, from Foster Village to Waipahu.
Eight fatal accidents occurred in District 4, which includes Kaneohe and Kailua, and seven in District 7, the East Honolulu District from Manoa to Sandy Beach.
The number of deaths, in general, dropped in the second half of the year. Thirty-five of the deaths were recorded through the end of June, compared with 22 from July through December.
"During the summer we thought we were going to have a lot of fatalities, and then it tapered off, thankfully," said Maj. Kurt Kendro, head of HPD's Traffic Division. "But that triple fatality at the end of the year was just a tragedy, and I don't care if I never have to go out to one like that again."
Kendro was referring to the horrific head-on crash on Farrington Highway near Tracks Beach in Nanakuli on Saturday night that added three family members to the overall Oahu total: a 1-year-old girl, her teenage mother and the mother's brother, also a teen.
As has often been the case in past years, more than half of those killed were not in cars or trucks, but instead were pedestrians or rode on motorcycles, mopeds and even a skateboard.
There were 19 pedestrian deaths in 2013, the most since the 20 recorded in 2010. Most of those deaths occurred in the first half of the year. By mid-July, 15 of the 39 people killed in crashes on Oahu were pedestrians. But after Pedestrian Safety Month initiatives were launched in August, the island recorded only four more pedestrian deaths through the end of the year.
Kendro said that a handful of those whose deaths were classified as pedestrian fatalities were not actually walking when they were struck. In one instance a man jumped out of a moving car, while in another case a man appeared to be "roof surfing," or attempting to pull a stunt while atop a moving car. In a third case a man's body inexplicably showed up in the middle of the road, and a fourth involved a skateboard rider.
Of the 12 fatal motorcycle victims, seven were wearing helmets, but none of the six moped riders who died wore a helmet, Kendro said. The number of motorcycle deaths decreased from the 16 recorded in 2012.
The greater share of fatal crashes involved speeding, impaired driving or a combination of both, Kendro said, although a complete analysis has yet to be done for 2013.
A reallocation of resources the last two years has allowed HPD's Traffic Division to put more officers on the road to conduct impaired- and hazardous-driving enforcement, Kendro said.
On New Year's Eve, motorists felt HPD's presence not just at DUI (driving under the influence) checkpoints, but from a series of patrol cars parked on the shoulder at key points on freeways and highways.
"After the tragedy of last Saturday night, we were hoping to have some visual deterrent early in the evening so that when people went out, they knew in the backs of their minds that we were out there in full force," he said. Through Thursday, "nobody died and there were no critical injuries."