Hawaii has recorded 73 traffic fatalities, so far, from the start of the year to Tuesday, according to preliminary statistics from the Hawaii Department of Transportation.
While the total for roughly the first 11 months of this year is 27 fewer than the same time period last year, when traffic fatalities reached 100, officials say it is concerning because traffic volumes on Hawaii roads have also gone down by about a third due to COVID-19 related restrictions.
“At HDOT, we are thankful that there have been fewer traffic deaths in 2020 but we also have to be mindful that we had fewer cars out on our roads,” said Deputy Director for Highways Ed Sniffen in a news release. “We know we need to continue pursuing safety measures, including education and support of enforcement, for the safety of everyone, pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, motorists, and their passengers.”
Of the 73 traffic fatalities logged from Jan. 1 to Nov. 24, 38 involved motor vehicle occupants, 19 involved pedestrians, 12 involved motorcycles and mopeds, and four involved bicyclists.
Oahu had the greatest share of fatalities, with 48, followed by Hawaii County, with 14, Kauai County, with 6, and Maui County, with 5.
The number of traffic related fatalities on Oahu so far this year surpassed the total during the same time period last year by two. The number of statewide bicyclist fatalities so far this year has also surpassed that of last year by one.
The 48th traffic related fatality on Oahu was a pedestrian fatality, which occurred after a 61-year-old man attempting to cross Farrington Highway near Black Rock Beach Park in Nanakuli Tuesday evening was struck by a 2012 Dodge sedan traveling east.
Police said motorists traveling in the other direction had stopped to let the pedestrian, who was not in a marked crosswalk, pass.
Paramedics transported the man to the hospital in critical condition, where he later died. He was identified by the Honolulu Medical Examiner’s office as Jimmy K. Nunuha of Waianae.
State officials said top contributing factors involved in Hawaii traffic fatalities this year are impaired driving, speed, and distracted driving. A traffic-related crash, however, may have more than one contributing factor.
According to preliminary data for 2020 so far, approximately 47% of fatal crashes involved speed, which has been consistent with trends since 2012.
Data from 2012 to 2019 show that an average of 46% of fatal crashes involved speed.
Honolulu police are urging the public to drive responsibly this holiday season, and will be setting up impaired driver checkpoints at unannounced times and locations from now through Dec. 31.
State officials are also pursuing the installation of raised pedestrian crosswalks, also known as speed tables, in an effort to elevate pedestrians and slow drivers down. The raised crosswalks have been or are slated to be installed, on Kauai, Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii island.
On Oahu, the raised crosswalks have been installed on Kalihi Street near Kalakaua Intermediate, on Fort Weaver Road near Ilima Intermediate, and on Farrington Highway near the Waianae High School exit and near Waialua High School.
Raised crosswalks are also planned for Pali Highway in Nuuanu, and on Fort Weaver Road at Parish Drive and Kilaha Street.
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 DEATHS IN HAWAII
Jan. 1 to Nov. 24, 2020
>> City and County of Honolulu: 25 motor vehicle occupants, 14 pedestrians, 5 motorcycles and mopeds, 4 bicyclists (48 total)
>> Hawaii County: 9 motor vehicle occupants, 3 pedestrians, 2 motorcycles (14 total)
>> Maui County: 1 motor vehicle, 2 pedestrians, 2 motorcycles (5 total)
>> Kauai County: 3 motor vehicles, 3 motorcycles and mopeds (6 total)