Police seek ways to reduce delays due to accidents
STORY SUMMARY »
The Honolulu Police Department is trying to shorten road closures that result after critical and fatal motor vehicle collisions. Among the measures:
» Police are escorting officials from the city Medical Examiner's Office so they can bypass stalled traffic and arrive at the scene more quickly.
» Response times are being monitored and investigations are recorded so the department and other agencies can note what improvements can be made.
» Five traffic experts, including police investigators, from the mainland will visit to monitor closures and offer input.
» Single-car, single-occupant crashes no longer require forensic mapping, as long as there were no other physical factors in the crash.
FULL STORY »
Police officials are working toward shortening car crash road closures that often draw the ire of delayed motorists.
Officers from the Honolulu Police Department often close several lanes on the roadways and highways for critical and fatal motor vehicle collisions. The closures can last anywhere from an hour to several hours.
Since June, division commanders have been studying crash response time lines, from the initial report to when investigators respond and up until the roads open, said police Capt. Frank Fujii. Police have also been videotaping the on-site investigations and road clearings.
Police also have recently agreed to escort the city medical examiner's vehicle to the scene for a speedier response.
Sgt. Alan Vegas, a vehicular homicide investigator for more than five years, said that investigators no longer have to do a forensic mapping of the scene if the crash involves a single person in one vehicle.
Forensic mapping takes into account the lanes, the vehicles, the victims and other physical evidence. That process could take anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours, Vegas said.
Within the next few months, the Police Department plans to bring in five traffic experts, including mainland traffic investigators, to recommend ways to open up roads more quickly.
"They said Honolulu is very unique in the sense that we don't have the bypass roads that the mainland has," Fujii said.
Police Chief Boisse Correa also has given more overtime and an extra vehicle to the traffic division, and he will be ordering more equipment, including a forensic mapper.
Fujii said the community should be mindful of the investigation and that drivers should not slow down to rubberneck.
"There's nobody who feels worse about the road closures than the officers, who deal with the drivers passing the scene," Fujii said. "The community can help us by paying attention to what they're doing rather than trying to see what's going on."
Fujii said the Police Department will try to find a balance between shorter closures and completing investigations.