A majority of Hawaii residents support a proposal to install traffic cameras that monitor intersections for the purpose of identifying and ticketing drivers who run red lights.
The results of the latest Honolulu Star-Advertiser Hawaii Poll should buoy the work of a state-appointed group that will begin planning for the installation of such traffic cameras.
On the other hand, running red lights was not identified as the primary contributor to traffic accidents in Hawaii by a vast majority of the 800 registered voters who participated in the poll.
In fact, of the four options given, running red lights prompted the least amount of concern regarding traffic accidents. The top choice was drivers texting and using cellphones, followed by drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs and speeding.
Hawaii, which saw 44 pedestrians die in 2018, including 27 on Oahu, has the highest fatality rate in the nation when it comes to pedestrians and vehicles. Pedestrians over 50 are especially vulnerable, according to a recent national report that ranked Hawaii the third most dangerous state in the nation for older pedestrians.
More than half of the voters surveyed for the Hawaii Poll said drivers not paying attention is the primary cause for these accidents.
Poll participant Stephanie Brown said the inattention largely comes back to drivers fiddling with their cellular phones.
“People have got to take responsibility to leave their phone alone,” she said.
Brown, a Kailua resident, said she also supports the installation of red-light cameras and certainly if they can identify the culprit in cases where someone gets hurt in an accident caused by a red-light runner.
Gov. David Ige in June signed into law a bill that establishes a committee to develop policy for a pilot red light-camera program across the state.
Such programs have whipped up controversy elsewhere, with some states and communities choosing to discontinue red light-camera projects.
Cameras are being used for traffic-light enforcement in 22 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands, but they’ve been banned in eight states, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.
Traffic photo enforcement programs have been proposed in Hawaii for years, and the Legislature even passed a law in 1998 authorizing photo enforcement systems to ticket speeding motorists.
But the “van cams” deployed by a private contractor on Oahu in 2002 caused a big fuss amid public perception that it was operated primarily to maximize revenue for the vendor. Lawmakers quickly repealed the law.