Hawai'i State News

Big Island police urge public to drive safely this Thanksgiving

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As Thanksgiving approaches, the Hawai‘i Police Department is teaming up with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to remind motorists that drug-impaired driving is dangerous and illegal.

Before heading out to any holiday event, remember: “If You Feel Different, You Drive Different.”

“People are familiar with the phrase ‘don’t drink and drive,’ however, they are less familiar with the impacts of driving impaired by prescription or illegal drugs,” said Torey Keltner, Program Manager for Hawai‘i Police Department’s Traffic Services Section.

Drivers need to understand that using some cold medications or over-the-counter sleep aids can impair your driving, which may lead to you being arrested for a DUI. Medications have directions on how to properly use them and people should be follow them closely.

“We want our Big Island community members to stay safe on the roads during the Thanksgiving holiday,” added Keltner. “Driving impaired due to drugs is deadly and illegal, and no one should ever take that risk.”


This year there have been 33 traffic fatalities on Hawai‘i Island roads, with impairment a factor in 14, or 42%, of those deaths. Six of the fatalities were due to drugs only, an additional six deaths were due to a combination of drugs and alcohol, and two deaths were caused by alcohol only. However, toxicology reports are still pending on the other 19 fatalities and the percentage of fatalities due to impairment is expected to increase.

In 2021 there were 26 traffic fatalities on Hawai‘i Island roads. Impairment was a factor in 21 of the 26 fatalities, with drugs playing a role in 20 of the 21 impaired deaths.

Driving under the influence of a drug played a similar role in 2020 traffic fatalities. Of the 15 traffic deaths in 2020, impairment was a factor in 12 people dying, with drugs playing a role in nine of the 12 impaired traffic fatalities.

“With so many safe driving options available, there’s no excuse to drive impaired this holiday season,” said Keltner. “We are asking our community members to please make good decisions during the upcoming holidays and commit to sober driving.”


The Hawai‘i Police Department will be out in force and on the lookout for impaired drivers throughout the holiday season.

If you’re planning to head out to the bar or parties during the Thanksgiving holiday, make sure you plan for a safe ride home. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for a safe night out.

Safe Driving Tips

●    If you plan on going to a party or event, plan ahead and designate a sober driver or use public transportation or a ride-sharing service. Someone who is affected by drugs or alcohol shouldn’t be making decisions about driving; that’s why having a plan is key.


●    If you have used an impairing substance, do not drive. Passengers should never ride with an impaired driver. If you think a driver may be impaired, do not get in the car.

●    If you see a friend who is about to drive while impaired by drugs, take the keys away and arrange to get them home safely. Don’t worry about offending someone — they’ll thank you later.

●    If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact the police department’s non-emergency line at 808-935-3311.

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