The Hawaii Department of Transportation announced today it is launching a public messaging campaign in an effort to reduce pedestrian fatalities in the state after the year started with an alarming spike.
Transportation officials said they will begin broadcasting traffic fatality statistics and safety messages weekly over electronic traffic signs on Oahu, on its website and social media accounts.
From Jan. 1 to March 15, preliminary data show there have been 20 traffic-related fatalities — 14 involving pedestrians, three involving motor vehicle occupants and three involving motorcycles, mopeds and scooters statewide. At the same time last year, there was only one pedestrian fatality. The 2018 total nearly matches the 15 suffered for all of 2017.
The 2018 pedestrian fatalities include nine people who were killed crossing streets, six of which were not in marked crosswalks. Five were struck while outside of their vehicle and are counted as pedestrians.
“Although we’re talking numbers and statistics, I want everyone to remember what each number represents,” said Gov. David Ige in a news release. “A family member or friend is lost forever every time the traffic fatality count increases. This year, nearly three-quarters of the deaths on Hawaii roads have been pedestrians. That is an unacceptable start to the year and we’re committing to raising awareness of safe driving and pedestrian behaviors.”
The department is also welcoming suggestions from the public for its highway safety messages via Twitter or Facebook using the hashtag #safeHIroads. Submissions should be 30 characters or less and provide a message meant to encourage safe driver and/or pedestrian behavior, such as “Click It or Ticket.”
Chosen submissions will be announced on HDOT social media accounts with credit given to the author.
“Given the increase in pedestrian fatalities this year, we owe it to the road users of Hawaii to aggressively push our safety messaging by any means available,” said deputy director for highways Ed Sniffen. “A number of states are effectively pushing out messaging on highway safety through their systems and message boards and we want it to be a sobering reminder for our drivers as well.”
Lt. Ben Moszkowicz of the Honolulu Police Department, said law enforcement will be out in force this St. Patrick’s Day weekend and throughout the year conducting DUI roadblocks.