Hawaii leads the nation with the highest pedestrian death rates for seniors, according to a study completed by the National Complete Streets Coalition.
Is it because Hawaii has more bad drivers? More distracted drivers? While that may be true in most cases, our handling of many pedestrian fatalities has also found fault with the crosswalks themselves.
Anyone who has driven down both North and South King Streets will encounter a large number of mid-block crosswalks that do not have pedestrian traffic control signals to protect pedestrians.
In long stretches of South King Street, there are five and six lanes for pedestrians to cross without the help of traffic signals. That’s like someone trying to cross the H-1 Freeway, which actually has less lanes. On any given day, crossing the 5 lanes of South King Street is like playing Russian roulette with traffic.
Most dangerous situations occur when one driver stops for a pedestrian while the driver in the next lane does not as the pedestrian is often hidden from view.
Back in December 2009, the Honolulu Police Department (HPD) conducted a traffic enforcement program at the Coolidge Street crosswalk, across South King Street. Plain clothes officers attempted to cross King Street and ticketed drivers who failed to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians.
In a span of ninety minutes, HPD officers issued over 40 “failure-to-yield” tickets. The tallest plain clothes officer had several near-misses, as if he wasn’t even there. An HPD lieutenant concluded that drivers are used to stopping only at traffic-controlled crosswalks, overlooking the crosswalks with no traffic signals.
We have found that for some crosswalks, the traffic engineers with the City and County of Honolulu have not provided drivers with adequate pedestrian warning signs and pedestrians with adequate signal light protection.
If you have lost a loved one in a pedestrian-auto collision, call SHIM & CHANG. Our legal experience can help you and your family. At SHIM & CHANG, we are committed not only to helping you, but also to making our roads, streets and crosswalks safer for everyone.
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