STOP! DRIVERS AND PEDESTRIANS:
— READ THIS STORY —
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
A pedestrian ran across King Street through stopped traffic near Down to Earth Natural Foods in Moiliili yesterday. At left are reminders police handed out yesterday.
Offenders to get police warning
A campaign targets all players to help make city streets safer
Pedestrians and drivers, heads up.
If you walk across the street illegally or fail while driving to allow a pedestrian to cross, Honolulu police may write you up -- a warning, that is.
In the next few weeks, officers will write violators' name on the warnings, which look like traffic tickets and list the penalties: $97 for drivers and $70 to $80 for pedestrians.
It's part of the Honolulu Police Department's pedestrian and driver safety campaign launched yesterday as the number of pedestrians killed on Oahu roadways continues to climb, with seven in just six weeks this year. Six of the seven were older than 70.
The latest victim, Guo Xuan Yang, 59, was struck while crossing a street where there were no marked crosswalks by a driver reportedly speeding, police said.
Honolulu Police Chief Boisse Correa and Mayor Mufi Hannemann announced the campaign yesterday at the busy corner of Punchbowl and South King streets.
The campaign was conceived "with the idea that blaming (drivers or pedestrians) is not important," Correa said. "We want everyone to work together."
"It's very important to us that both the drivers and pedestrians become aware that we have a problem," he said. "Drive and walk safely, and that's our big emphasis."
Correa said the warnings with names written on them are a tangible reminder to pedestrians and drivers.
"You have to warn people before giving all citations," he said. "We're not out there to penalize anybody."
At their discretion, however, police will cite blatant violators, Correa said.
He and other uniformed officers crossed the streets talking to pedestrians and handing out the warnings and safety pamphlets.
The warning for pedestrians says, "No pedestrian shall leave the curb or sidewalk and walk into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield."
The driver reminder says, "If a car is stopped at an intersection to let a pedestrian cross, any vehicle to the rear shall not overtake and pass the stopped vehicle."
They also remind violators that 20 pedestrians were killed on Oahu last year, and more than 400 were injured, more than one a day.
Officers have been sent to various locations across Oahu to assess the pedestrian-safety issues, and will return in a couple of months to determine whether any improvement has been made.
Lt. Jerry Wojcik, who is working on the campaign, said, "It's just unbelievable. I'm surprised we don't have more fatalities because of their behavior. We need to think about other people, not just ourselves, when we drive and walk."
Part of the problem is pedestrians do not know the flashing red-hand signal means they are not to enter a crosswalk, he said.
AARP Associate State Director Bruce Bottorff said the campaign is a great contribution to the solution but requires all levels of government and community groups like AARP to publicize how dangerous it is to be a pedestrian in this state. Hawaii ranked eighth in the nation for pedestrian fatalities per capita from 2000 to 2004, and fourth in 2005 for pedestrian fatalities 65 and older, Bottorff said.