The number of traffic-related fatalities in Hawaii continues to climb, with 66 in roughly the first nine months of this year, five more than the same time last year.
Despite an ongoing pandemic, traffic has pretty much returned, and with it, a higher number of traffic-related fatalities that has surpassed the numbers from last year for at least six months now, according to preliminary statistics from the Hawaii Department of Transportation.
Of the 66 fatalities from Jan. 1 to Wednesday, 26 involved motorcycles, mopeds and scooters; 21 involved motor vehicle occupants; 16 involved pedestrians; two involved bicyclists, and one ATV operator, according to DOT. The total is six more than counted through the first eight months of 2021.
The number of motorcycle and scooter related fatalities is more than double what it was during the same time last year — 26 compared to 11.
Ed Sniffen, HDOT deputy director for highways, previously told the Star-Advertiser that motorcycle related fatalities generally go up when gas prices spike, both in Hawaii and nationally. In addition, he said more people are on the road compared with 2020, and more have been speeding.
Earlier this week, a 36-year-old motorcyclist died in a collision with a Ford pickup truck making a turn on North Kihei Road on Maui. The man, which Maui police identified as Myles Basquez of Kihei, was traveling at a high rate of speed when he collided, and was thrown onto the roadway.
Police said he was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, and died at the scene. The motorcycle fatality was Maui County’s 12th so far this year.
September was a deadly month for traffic-related fatalities on Oahu, which has recorded most, or 35, of the total so far.
In the first week of September, a 20-year-old male motorcyclist also crashed in Kapolei, and was pronounced dead at the scene. He as also wearing a helmet.
Then on Sept. 24, a 79-year-old woman driving solo in a Honda sedan veered off of Kalanianaole Highway in Waimanalo and struck a metal pole. She was taken to the hospital in critical condition, and later died from her injuries.
In between, there were numerous collisions involving bicyclists and cars, mopeds and cars, and pedestrians and cars, including one where a driver accidentally ran over a man lying in a Makiki road that resulted in critical injuries.
In mid-September, two female pedestrians were struck by cars within minutes of one another in two separate incidents on the same morning in Kaimuki. Emergency Medical Services treated both in serious, but stable condition.
In addition, an ATV operator related fatality occurred on the island of Hawaii, the first in several years. DOT last recorded an ATV related fatality in 2017.
After Oahu, Hawaii County had the second highest number of traffic-related fatalities, with 18, followed by 12 on Maui County. Kauai County has recorded only one fatality involving a motorcyclist so far this year.
TRAFFIC RELATED FATALITIES
Traffic-related deaths in Hawaii from Jan. 1 to Monday:
>> State (66 total): 21 motor vehicle occupants, 16 pedestrians, 26 motorcycle, moped and scooter operators, 2 bicyclists, 1 ATV operator
>> City and County of Honolulu (35 total): 7 motor vehicle occupants, 11 pedestrians, 15 motorcycle/scooter operators, 2 bicyclists
>> Hawaii County (18 total): 10 motor vehicle occupants, 1 pedestrian, 6 motorcycle/scooter operators, 1 ATV operator
>> Maui County (12 total): 4 motor vehicle occupants, 4 pedestrians, 4 motorcycle/scooter operators
>> Kauai County (1 total): 1 motorcycle operator