Traffic safety advocates around the state have just one wish this holiday season–for everyone to arrive alive. To make this wish come true, the Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT), Hawaii State Department of Health, four county police departments, MADD Hawaii, community members and other traffic safety partners are teaming up to remind everyone to drive safely, be mindful of all roadway users and buckle up. If we all take these simple steps, all our friends and family can ring in the New Year together.
Preliminary state data indicates that there is a 13-percent increase in traffic fatalities from last year (80 compared to 71 during the same time last year). Of the 80 fatalities, nearly half were related to speeding. Significantly there was a 142-percent increase in motorcycle fatalities, with 29 motorcyclists killed compared to 12 during the same time last year. Toxicology results are still pending on many 2021 traffic fatalities. These results will inform impaired driving-related statistics, but historical data shows nearly half of the drivers in fatal crashes in Hawaii tested positive for drugs or alcohol.
Leading into and throughout the holidays, HDOT and its traffic safety partners will be increasing education, enforcement and community engagement, starting with a somber reminder of why we do what we do. On Nov. 21 (World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims), HDOT, the Honolulu Police Department (HPD), Maui Police Department, Kauai Police Department, Hawaii Police Department, MADD Hawaii and partner agencies will light virtual candles and join national and international partners in remembering the people killed in traffic crashes.
“These victims no longer have voices, so we’re speaking for them and doing our best to make sure there are no more of these senseless and preventable tragedies,” HDOT Deputy Director for Highways Ed Sniffen said. “It’s absolutely heartbreaking for the families who have to say goodbye because of someone else’s irresponsible actions. There really is no excuse for all of these dangerous behaviors and tragic deaths.”
The “No Excuses” holiday enforcement and education will begin on Wednesday, Nov. 24, with sign waving held in numerous locations throughout the state and strict enforcement of traffic safety laws, including speeding, impaired driving, distracted driving, seat belt and pedestrian safety.
Family members and friends of victims killed in speed-related and/or impaired driving crashes will be present at select sign waving sites to share their stories.
In addition, all four county police departments will be conducting sobriety checkpoints and/or saturation patrols. For the third year, the Maui Police Department will dedicate a checkpoint on Nov. 24 to the memory of Hannah Brown, who was 19 years old when she was killed by an impaired driver in 2019.
“Law enforcement agencies across the state continue to conduct traffic enforcement to prevent senseless tragedies and save lives,” Acting Major James Slayter of the HPD’s Traffic Division said. “Our commitment hasn’t wavered, but we need everyone else to do their part, too. Slow down, drive sober, wear your seat belt and watch out for all roadway users so that everyone can get home safely.”
“As a community, we can’t just wait for this problem to fix itself or just go away,” Slayter added. “We must all come together and share the responsibility to ensure our roadways are safe.”
Other holiday safety campaign activities will include:
- Public service announcements (PSA) that will be airing on television and social media platforms. The PSAs remind drivers that there is no excuse for driving while impaired or speeding, and to slow down and enjoy the ride.
- MADD Hawaii Red Ribbon Challenge – Take the MADD Red Ribbon Challenge and show your commitment to never drink and drive. Be creative with where you Tie One On for Safety and post a photo or video of your MADD Red Ribbon on social media with #RedRibbonChallenge808. Don’t forget to tag MADD Hawaii on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Pick up your red ribbons from Aloha Island Marts, Foodland and Napa Auto Parts statewide.
- In support of MADD’s Tie One On for Safety campaign, HDOT will be tying a red ribbon on all Freeway Service Patrol trucks and all Highways Division state vehicles throughout the holidays.
Safe travel tips
HDOT urges Hawaii’s roadway users to:
- Slow down and obey the speed limits;
- Always buckle up – every trip, day and night, year-round;
- Plan a safe way home before you start consuming intoxicants;
- Remember that it is never okay to drink and drive. Even one alcoholic beverage can slow reaction times and impair judgement; and,
- If you know someone who is about to drive while impaired, be a true friend and take their keys away. Help them make other arrangements to get them to their destination safely.