Sunday, April 08, 2007

President's Letter: April 2007 -- Pedestrian Safety

President's Letter – Larry Geller

The safety of pedestrians remains a hot issue due to a sudden spurt of deaths earlier this year. The state Department of Transportation had done nothing at all to improve pedestrian safety despite an August 2006 report by AARP on its extensive survey of dangerous intersections. As we near the end of the legislative process, there are bills to require them to take action, if they pass into law.

Instead of studying the problem and taking action in 2010 (as the DOT proposed), the bills now call for immediate action and include a provision for enforcement of existing laws. Something needs to be done to shift the focus from changing pedestrian behavior to correcting the dangerous driving habits of Hawaii motorists that result in death and injury.

One section of HB357 will be unique in the country if it passes into law. This section recognizes that pedestrians are entitled to protection according to the Hawaii State Constitution:
Making Hawaii's roadways safer for pedestrians is consistent with Kamehameha's famous law, Ke Kanawai Mamalahoe, the law of the splintered paddle, which assures that every man, woman, and child is able to travel freely and in peace. This law is established as state law in article IX, section 10, of the Hawaii state constitution:

"Let every elderly person, woman and child lie by the roadside in safety -- shall be a unique and living symbol of the State's concern for public safety."
Will the Honolulu Police Department follow the King's edict and step up enforcement of laws by ticketing motorists?