Remove temptation for young drivers: Close Kapaa Quarry Road at night
On Feb. 15, two Kamehameha graduates were killed in a car crash on Kapaa Quarry Road. This was a major wake-up call for me. Like many other Windward teenagers, I have taken that route in the past, and as you can guess, we were not dropping off trash.
Imagine you're 16 and on your way home with friends. You can either take the regular route home or go down Kapaa Quarry Road.
But Kapaa Quarry Road isn't just your ordinary road. In fact, there is a blind and steep turn that you can "fly" down. In some cases, your car will actually lift off the ground, giving you the thrill of a roller coaster without the monetary fee. So you're with all of your friends, having a good time; what could happen to you? This is probably what many teens are thinking before they decide to take that risk, and do something that will change their lives, and those of their families, forever.
As a teenager, I know the line: "It will never happen to me. I'm a good driver." But think again. I doubt that, on their way down Kapaa Quarry Road, those teenagers fathomed never seeing their families again, or getting hurt the way they did. Why do most teens think this way? As a student council member, I know how hard it is to get students to care. Maybe it's because we are stuck in a "me" generation. We don't ask if the cost outweighs the benefits. Is it worth it to have a thrill that lasts all of 30 seconds when you could hurt your family forever? If you knew how much it would hurt the people you love, would you do it? We need to start thinking about others before ourselves and, ultimately, live life on the safe side.
As a new driver, I am more cautious. I make sure to stop at stop signs, never speed and always watch out for others. I knew one of the girls in the accident. She was in my class, and now won't be able to return for at least a year due to severe injuries. Trust me, you won't get fired for being 10 minutes late to work, but do you really want to lose your life trying to get there on time?
We need to come together and find a solution. Now, the thing that pops into everyone's head is a simple plan to make teenagers not want to speed down this hill and drive recklessly, but I doubt things are actually going to change that dramatically. Truthfully, we had a speaker come and talk to us about reckless driving and even though it was a spectacular presentation, no one really cared. Students were still speeding that same day. Expecting a teenager to change, though it seems like the easiest solution, probably is not feasible.
Kapaa Quarry Road has been a joy ride for many, and for some, even a last ride. I am pleased that the legislator for whom I intern, Sen. Jill Tokuda, plans to introduce a Senate Concurrent Resolution calling for all property owners along Kapaa Quarry Road to meet to determine safety measures and improvements and report back to the Legislature next year.
Perhaps if we eliminate one temptation, we will end up saving lives. This road should be closed in the evening because it seems that the only reason people use it is to go for their joy ride, or to speed through because they want a shortcut. I don't think garbage and litter disposal at the city dump would be dramatically affected by closing the road at night, but I do think it would prevent unnecessary deaths.
In the meantime, we need to be willing to take responsibility and make better choices. As a teenager, I know what it's like to want to live on the wild side and have fun. But we must stop and realize that our actions have consequences. My message to my peers is to think about who their actions will affect. Stop thinking that "It won't happen to me" and start thinking, "What if it does?" Don't think of your 30-second "high," but think about the consequences and hurt that you could leave your family and friends to suffer.
It only takes a moment to make a better decision. Please drive safely. You can be the difference.
Sommerset Wong, a junior at Kamehameha Schools, is working as a legislative intern for state Sen. Jill Tokuda (D, Kaneohe-Kailua).