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Fewer Fatal Car Crashes Occurred This Year Compared to 2019, HDOT Reports

November 29, 2020, 6:00 AM HST
* Updated November 28, 10:49 PM
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The Hawai‘i Department of Transportation (HDOT) reports that there have been 27 fewer deaths on Hawai‘i roads compared to this time in 2019.

However, traffic volumes, or the number of vehicle trips on the roads, have also been greatly decreased due to various orders related to the COVID-19 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 Hawai‘i 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 have been 73 traffic fatalities and multiple near-fatal crashes statewide. 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 at https://hidot.hawaii.gov/highways/covid-19-traffic-volume-comparison/.

The top contributing factors involved in Hawai‘i 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% 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.

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Preliminary data for 2020 year-to-date shows that 47% of fatal crashes involved speed. This tracks with data that shows an average of 46% of fatal crashes in Hawai‘i since 2012 were related to speeding.

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On the engineering side, HDOT has been pursuing the installation of raised pedestrian crosswalks, also known as speed tables, to elevate pedestrians and require drivers to slow when approaching the crosswalk. These improvements, according to HDOT, change behavior by requiring vehicles to travel at a responsible speed at the crossing every time.

One of the projects is located on Māmalahoa Highway at Na‘alehu School. Installation is planned for next month. HDOT urges all drivers to follow the rules of the road for their own safety and the health and safety of surrounding communities.

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