There have been 63 traffic-related fatalities in Hawaii during the first nine months of this year, according to preliminary statistics from the state Department of Transportation.
Of the 63 traffic-related fatalities the state counted from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30, a total of 35 involved motor vehicle occupants, 15 involved pedestrians, three involved motorcycles, and two involved bicyclists.
The total was 11 less than reported at the same time last year but includes a higher number of fatalities involving motor vehicle occupants. There were 35 fatalities involving motor vehicle occupants so far this year, compared to 27 during the same period last year.
Oahu had the greatest share of fatalities, with 39, followed by Hawaii County with 13, Kauai County with six, and Maui County with five.
The numbers may be relatively low due to two pandemic-related cycles of “stay-at-home” orders which reduced the number of vehicles traveling on roadways.
However, state transportation officials over Labor Day weekend also noted a significant increase in excessive speeding and aggressive driving despite an average, 30% reduction in traffic volume during pandemic-related orders.
Several tragedies occurred in September, which involved speeding by solo drivers, a hit-and-run of a bicyclist on Oahu’s North Shore, and a pedestrian fatality due to suspected drunk driving.
On Sept. 24, a 21-year-old Honolulu man died after a fiery head-on collision in Ewa Beach late that night.
Police said the man was driving at a high rate of speed northbound on Fort Weaver Road lost control and crashed into a utility pole in the center median. His car rolled over a few times before colliding head-on with another car in the southbound lanes, sending a 53-year-old Ewa Beach man to the hospital in serious condition.
He was partially ejected from his car, and pulled from the wreckage as it was engulfed in flames. He later died at the hospital and was counted as Oahu’s 39th traffic fatality.
On Sept. 16, a woman driving north on Kaukonahua Road in the early morning hours crossed over into oncoming traffic for unknown reasons, then veered off the roadway. She was ejected from the vehicle as it rolled several times. She was transported by paramedics to Queen’s Medical Center in serious condition, where she later died.
Police said speed and alcohol appeared to be contributing factors.
On Sept. 15, a 42-year-old Sunset Beach man was struck by a car while riding a bicycle on the unimproved shoulder of Kamehameha Highway. The vehicle fled the scene, and the man was pronounced dead at the scene. It was the second bicycle fatality for Oahu in the first nine months of this year.
On Sept. 3, an 80-year-old Kailua man was struck by a pickup truck while walking in the bicycle lane on Keolu Drive early that morning. He was taken to a hospital in critical condition and later died.
He was later identified as retired University of Hawaii professor Jerome M. Comcowich of Kailua. The 57-year-old driver of the pickup truck was arrested on suspicion of first-degree negligent homicide and operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant.
To be counted, a fatal crash must involve a motor vehicle traveling on a traffic way customarily open to the public and result in the death of at least one person within 30 days, according to state officials.
Traffic-related fatalities Jan. 1 to Sept. 30:
>> City and County of Honolulu: 23 motor vehicle occupants, 10 pedestrians, four motorcyclists and two bicyclists (total 39).
>> Hawaii County: eight motor vehicle occupants, three pedestrians and two motorcyclists (total 13).
>> Maui County: one motor vehicle occupants, two pedestrians and two motorcycles (total five).
>> Kauai County: three motor vehicle occupants and three motorcycles (total six).