Updated: September 30, 2023
Governor Josh Green, M.D., signed seven bills into law on Thursday, aimed at increasing safety on Hawaiʻi’s roadways. One of the bills allows driver license renewal online and by mail, and takes effect in two years on July 1, 2025. Another bill establishes a Safe Routes to School Advisory Committee.
“In just the first six months of 2023, we have already seen 43 traffic fatalities,” said Gov. Green. “This is unacceptable and should not be occurring. We need these numbers to go down so our communities will be safer and we can prevent losing more lives to preventable tragedies.”
“The bills we have signed today strive to enhance not only road safety, but driver and passenger safety, pedestrian safety, and public safety,” Gov. Green said. “However, enacting laws alone will not solve our issues. We need everyone to commit to making our roads safer by following the laws that are in place as well as the new laws being enacted. We can make Hawaiʻi’s communities safer if people just follow the law.”
The three bills signed on-site included:
SB1086 SD2 HD1 CD1, (Act 242) Relating to Transportation
State highway safety and modernization council
Renames the State Highway Safety Council to the State Highway Safety and Modernization Council. Amends the composition and duties of the State Highway Safety and Modernization Council. Effective July 1, 2023. (CD1)
SB1166 SD2 HD2 CD1, (Act 243) Relating to the Renewal of Driver’s Licenses
Driver license renewal by mail
Allows for the renewal of driver’s licenses online in addition to by mail. Effective July 2025. (CD1)
HB600 HD1 SD2 CD2, (Act 244) Relating to Safe Routes to Schools
Establishes the Safe Routes to School Advisory Committee. Requires the Safe Routes to School Advisory Committee to develop a comprehensive, statewide Safe Routes to School Plan. Amends the duties of the Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School Program. Deposits state highway funds into the Safe Routes to School Program special fund. Appropriates funds from the Safe Routes to School Program special fund. (CD2)
Senator Chris Lee, chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation and Culture and the Arts, noted the need to change our mindset from road designs that assume people will obey speed limits and not text and drive, to road designs that assume drivers are fallible and will protect the vulnerable, even when cars speed, drive drunk, or swerve into bike lanes and sidewalks.
“If Hawaiʻi is going to change the record of 117 fatalities and nearly 600 serious or paralyzing injuries on our streets that we experienced last year, then we have to change the way we design our roads, implementing best practices that successfully save lives elsewhere, by physically separating cars from pedestrians and people on bicycles, and building safer crosswalks where they intersect,” said Senator Lee, (District 25 Kailua, Waimānalo, Hawai‘i Kai.) “These bills double down on prioritizing safety first, and step up investment in protected transit infrastructure that will save our keiki and kūpuna when drivers speed, aren’t paying attention, and lose control,” he said.
“We have a lot of work to do to reimagine how we get from point A to point B here in the islands,” said Representative Chris Todd, chair of the House Committee on Transportation. “I am pleased that we made progress this year on some critical issues. These bills will help lay the foundation for a safer and more efficient transportation future,” said Representative Todd, (District 3, portion of Hilo, Keaukaha, Orchidland Estates, Ainaloa, Hawaiian Acres, Fern Acres, portions of Kurtistown and Kea‘au).
“Traffic safety has been a major concern in our school community for years, and this was highlighted most recently by the pedestrian fatality near our school,” said Cherilyn Inouye, prinicipal of Kaʻelepulu Elementary School in Kailua. “We appreciate the support of our Governor and legislators in prioritizing traffic safety and safe routes to school to not only help our Kaʻelepulu students and families, but to help students and community members across the state to be able to walk, bike, or drive more safely on our roads.”
Other bills also signed earlier, but not a part of the signing ceremony include:
SB497 SD1 HD1 CD1, (Act 238) Relating to Commercial Vehicles
Prohibits commercial vehicles using left lanes
Prohibits certain oversized commercial vehicles from driving in the far left lane on roadways with three or more lanes for traffic moving in the same direction, subject to certain exceptions. Effective January 1, 2024. (CD1)
HB118 SD2, (Act 244) Relating to Traffic Fines
Prohibits parked vehicles on highways
Clarifies that each county may, by ordinance, designate certain sections of county highways as areas in which stopping, standing, or parking vehicles is prohibited or restricted. Provides that any federal or state agency authorizing a road closure shall supersede a county ordinance. (SD2)
HB1104 HD1 SD1, (Act 240) Relating to Motor Vehicles Enforcement
Clarifies enforcement powers for motor vehicle violations
Repeals exemption relating to the issuance of citations for violations of section 291-35, HRS, relating to vehicle gross weight, axle, and wheel loads. (SD1)
HB1108 HD1 SD1, (Act 241) Relating to Commercial Motor Vehicle Fines
Amends the law relating to vehicle weight violations by replacing the fine schedule and increasing the potential fines based on multitude and magnitude of vehicle weight violations. (SD1)