Fewer Traffic Fatalities Year-to-Date, Counterweighed by Fewer Vehicles on the Road
The Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation reports that there were 27 fewer deaths on Hawaiʻi roads compared to this time in 2019. However, traffic volumes, or the amount of vehicle trips on the roads, has also been greatly decreased due to various orders related to the current pandemic.
“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 Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation Deputy Director for Highways Ed Sniffen. “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.”
As of Nov. 24, 2020, there were 73 traffic fatalities and multiple near-fatal crashes. This is even with a reduction of roughly a third of vehicle trips daily. HDOT has been tracking the change in traffic volumes during the COVID-19 emergency online.
Top contributing factors involved in Hawaiʻi traffic fatalities are impaired driving, speed, and distracted driving (Note: a traffic crash may have more than one contributing factor). Preliminary 2019 figures show 59 percent of the traffic fatalities that were tested, tested positive for alcohol and/or drugs. Of the 15 fatalities of persons between the ages of 15 to 22, 13 posthumously tested positive for alcohol and/or drugs.
Preliminary data for 2020 year-to-date shows that 47 percent of fatal crashes involved speed. This tracks with data that shows an average of 46 percent of fatal crashes in Hawaiʻi since 2012 were related to speed.
On the engineering side, HDOT has been pursuing installation of raised pedestrian crosswalks, also known as speed tables, to elevate pedestrians and require drivers to slow when approaching the crosswalk. These improvements change behavior by requiring vehicles to travel at a responsible speed at the crossing every time.
Completed and planned installations of raised crosswalks by island are:
- Hāna Highway near Haʻikū Elementary and Haʻikū Community Center – Installed two raised crosswalks in October 2020 to supplement Rapid Rectangular Flashing Beacons and speed feedback signs
- Haleakalā Highway near Lower Kimo Drive – Installed two speed tables as a traffic calming measure. The speed limit on Haleakalā is 30 mph with advisory speeds of 15 mph over the speed tables.
- Mamalahoa Highway (Route 11) at Naʻalehu School – Installation planned for December 2020
HDOT urges all drivers to follow the rules of the road for their own safety and the health and safety of our communities. Additional graphs showing impact of speeding on reaction times and survivability, fatalities involving speeding, and fatalities by crash type follow.
- Kūhiō Highway (Route 560) at mile marker 3.1 near Hanalei School – Installation planned for December 2020
- Kalihi Street near Kalākaua Intermediate, Kalihi Kai Elementary – Installed May 2019
- Farrington Highway at Ala Walua Street, the Waiʻanae High School exit, Alawa Place, and Maiuʻu Road – Installed August 2019
- Fort Weaver Road near Ilima Intermediate, Pōhākea Elementary and James Campbell High Schools – Installed August 2019
- Farrington Highway by Waialua High School – Installed July 2020
- Pali Highway in Nuʻuanu at Upper Dowsett Avenue and Ahipuʻu Street – Installation planned for November/December 2020
- Fort Weaver Road at Parish Drive and Kiliha Street/Ewa Beach Road – Installation planned in addition to expansion of school zone speed zone and improved highway lighting