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Nine traffic fatalities so far on Maui is cause for concern as graduation and summer nears

As the busy graduation and summer break approaches, Maui police are reminding the public of the dangers of drinking while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and distracted driving.

“Tragically a week ago today we suffered our ninth traffic fatality this calendar year,” said Reid Pursley, Acting Assistant Chief of Uniform Services for the Maui Police Department during a press briefing hosted by Maui Mayor Michael Victorino on Thursday evening. That’s up 200% from the three fatalities reported at the same time last year.

There were nine fatal motor vehicle crashes reported so far in 2022. PC: Maui Police Department photos

Fatal crashes so far this year included the following:

  • April 14: A 46-year-old Wailuku man was killed after being struck by a pickup truck on the Honoapiʻilani Highway in Wailuku. Police say the man was either walking or running on the right paved shoulder of the highway. The operator of the Toyota pickup truck, a 57-year-old Waiʻanae man, was arrested on suspicion of first degree negligent homicide and operating a vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant.
  • April 3: Two people were killed in an early morning traffic crash involving a pickup truck that collided into a parked car on the shoulder of North Kīhei Road.
  • Feb 24: Terry Jones, the Maui Police Chief’s Executive Secretary, was killed in a motor vehicle crash while pursuing a suspect who reportedly stole her purse. The crash occurred on Kula Highway, when Jones lost control of the vehicle she was operating and collided into a large tree while attempting to negotiate a right turn onto Haleakalā Highway.
  • Feb. 13: A Wailuku man suffered fatal injuries in a motorcycle crash on Maui Veterans Highway early Sunday morning, Feb. 13, 2022. Police say they believe speed was a factor in the crash. 
  • Jan. 29: A 73-year-old male from Lahaina was riding an electric bike on Front Street Saturday night when he was struck from behind by a truck whose driver was impaired. The cyclist later died of his injuries at Maui Memorial Medical Center.
  • Jan. 24: A 54-year-old Kīhei man died in a head-on crash on the Maui Veterans Highway about 1,252 feet north of Kealia National Wildlife Refuge Road.
  • Jan. 1: The driver of a moped lost control of the vehicle and was ejected onto the roadway at Kehalani Mauka Parkway near Komo ʻŌhiʻa Streeet in Wailuku. The 32-year-old Wailuku man died at the scene.
  • Jan. 1: A 51-year-old Lahaina man was traveling south on the Honoapiʻilani Highway in the area of Kekaʻa Drive at a high rate of speed when he lost control of the motorcycle he was operating, and we ejected onto the roadway. He was then struck by another vehicle and died at the scene.

“It should go without saying that the nine this year are unacceptable for us as a police department, and it should be unacceptable for us as a community.”

Reid Pursley, Acting Assistant Chief of Uniform Services, MPD

Reid Pursley, Acting Assistant Chief of Uniform Services for the Maui Police Department. PC: County of Maui / Akakū

“With spring break… bookended by Memorial Day and Labor Day, we have five three day weekends sandwiched in between,” he said. “The police department is urging everybody to please be responsible… If you’re going to drink, use a designated sober driver. We will continue our commitment to keep the roads as safe as possible through our participation with the various national traffic campaigns.”

The department is currently participating in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “U Drive U Text U Pay” Distracted Driving awareness enforcement event, which runs through tomorrow. 

As of Wednesday, the department had made 183 DUI arrests, year-to-date (including five habitual), compared to 192 at the same time last year (9 habitual). “We are on par with last year’s numbers, which was the highest since 2017,” said Acting Lieutenant Kenneth Kihata of the Maui Police Department’s Traffic Division.

AC Kihata said enforcement “can only do so much” to tackle the problem of drunk, drugged and distracted driving. “This is a community issue as a whole. We need our community to support and understand–it is up to them to make the smart decision to drive sober and help put an end to the senseless, heartbreaking, and preventable deaths occurring on our roadways.”

AC Kihata, who serves with the Vehicular Homicide Unit, also went over fatal crash statistics.

  • Three of the nine fatalities were motorcycle/moped operators. All three were not wearing helmets.
  • Five of the crashes involved alcohol and/or drugs.
  • Six of the crashes involved speed.
  • All crashes which resulted in the nine fatalities, either involved speed, drugs, or alcohol, or a combination of the three.

“All involved were local Maui residents; and all were senseless and totally preventable,” said AC Kihata. “Not to be grim, but at this current rate, if we continue, we will be recording an all time high in traffic fatalities for Maui County.”

Acting Lieutenant Kenneth Kihata of the Maui Police Department’s Traffic Division. PC: County of Maui / Akakū

“We’re not saying don’t go out and not have a good time, but plan a safe way home before you start consuming intoxicants,” said AC Kihata.

Maui police offered more tips to keep in mind:

  • If you have been drinking, utilize Uber, Lyft, call a taxi, call a sober friend or family member to come pick you up.
  • If you know someone who is about to drive while impaired, be a true friend and take his/her keys away from them. Help them to make other arrangements to get where they are going safely.

“We’ll be coming up on the graduation season and summer break soon. Make the smart decision not to drink and drive. Please keep our roadways safe for everyone,” said AC Kihata.

Original source: https://mauinow.com/2022/04/22/nine-traffic-fatalities-so-far-on-maui-is-cause-for-concern-as-graduation-and-summer-nears/

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