HPD credits tickets for fewer road deaths
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Police credit better enforcement and better weather to the lower traffic fatality count so far this year.
There are 24 fewer traffic fatalities so far this year compared with 2006.
Police officials said there were about 13,000 more speeding citations this year.
Better road conditions helped keep the numbers down.
There were 12 fatalities in March last year, during the period of torrential rains. Eight of those 12 deaths were blamed on inclement weather.
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STAR-BULLETIN / MARCH 2007
Honolulu police investigate a double-fatality car crash on Kamehameha Highway in Kahaluu in March. Honolulu police officials report a drop in traffic fatalities for Oahu, attributed to increased enforcement and better weather.
Oahu has seen 24 fewer traffic fatalities this year, and police attribute that to both more enforcement and less rain.
So far this year, there have been 50 traffic fatalities, as opposed to 74 at the same time last year. This year's figure is considered significantly low for this time of the year, police said.
"We have continued and stepped up the focus on speed enforcement citations and impaired driving arrests throughout this year," said Honolulu Police Department Maj. Susan Dowsett, who heads the Traffic Safety Division.
Through August, police officers have issued 36,273 speeding citations and made 2,583 arrests for impaired driving. Through the same time period last year, police issued 23,344 speeding citations, with 2,256 people arrested for impaired driving.
"We also have continued with our 52/12 checkpoint program, which means that an impaired driving checkpoint is held at least weekly in addition to the holiday checkpoints," Dowsett said.
Dowsett also noted that during the harsh rainfall last spring, traffic fatalities spiked because of the wet road conditions. There were 90 traffic fatalities overall last year.
In March and April last year, there were 12 traffic fatalities each. Compared to this year, there were 8 in March and 6 in April.
"Those numbers are considered very high for a monthly total," Dowsett said. "Eight of the 12 March 2006 fatalities occurred during inclement weather."
Oahu also experienced more fatal collisions that involved multiple deaths for single accidents, she said. A notable crash occurred during April last year. Four women died when the pickup truck they rode in collided into a cement truck on Kunia Road.
Dowsett also attributed the decrease to the Police Department's aggressive pedestrian safety campaign, which was launched in response to a rash of pedestrian deaths earlier this year.
The campaign focused on strict enforcement of pedestrian crosswalk laws, with some officers going undercover to collar violators.
There were 10 pedestrian deaths in the first 10 weeks of this year. After the pedestrian safety campaign launched, there have been three more deaths since.
"We believe that the increased enforcement as well as the very visible pedestrian safety campaign contributed to greater public awareness and perception of our presence on the roadways, which has helped in terms of reduced fatalities in our roadways," Dowsett said.