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Heat turned up on crosswalk-violating motorists

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Police were out on King Street near the Kapalama Post Office yesterday, ticketing motorists who failed to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. Drivers were also nabbed for other offenses, including talking on a cell phone.

After two pedestrian deaths the past week and three for the year, the Honolulu Police Department’s Traffic Division laid a "crosswalk trap" in Kalihi yesterday morning to remind motorists that they need to slow down as they approach pedestrians.

Officially, Traffic Division Maj. Thomas Nitta dubbed yesterday’s action a "SPAM" project, short for "saving pedestrians and motorists."

A number of motorists were tagged not just for failing to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk, but also for other infractions including cell phone usage, not wearing a seat belt and driving an illegally reconstructed vehicle.

Yesterday’s "trap" took place on North King Street fronting the Kapalama Post Office, just a few blocks away from Waiakamilo Road, where the latest fatality occurred last week.

Nitta said the number of pedestrian fatalities again appears to be on the rise after declining nearly every year since 2005.

Fatalities have gone from 28 in 2005 to 20 in both 2006 and 2007, 14 in 2008 and 10 in 2009. But with just over half the year gone in 2010, the fatal pedestrian count is already up to nine, Nitta said.

Nitta said that while not quite as elaborate as yesterday’s SPAM action, police regularly will observe and monitor crosswalks around the island where pedestrian injuries are frequent.

A citation for failing to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk could cost a motorist a minimum of $130.

Dwight Shimoda, who lives on Long Lane and goes running in the Kalihi business district daily, said he appreciates the Traffic Division setting up a trap for crosswalk violators in his neighborhood.

"This is the one where a lot of people get hit," Shimoda said, pointing to the crosswalk at the Wolter Lane intersection. About 12 years ago, an elderly woman was killed while attempting to cross there, he said.

She had moved into the neighborhood only a month before.


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