A Drive To Curb Recklessness

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - August 04, 2010

Another drunk driver, another speeder, another death - it’s an all-too-familiar equation that adds up to despair, sorrow and the loss of innocence. The victim in the latest, tragic chapter is an 11-year-old boy.

Kalanianaole Highway near Waimanalo is an enticing stretch of roadway. It has a long straightaway that road racers love. You can really open it up there. Residents in the general vicinity are used to the high-pitched whine of a modified four banger bumping into the red of the tachometer. The only relief comes in the form of a brief silence when the gears are changing.

I don’t want to get into the details of what happened on this roadway just about a week ago. It would be too disturbing to recount how this young boy lost his life, and his family and friends don’t need another reminder of their loss.


However, the driver of the car that night was drunk, was speeding (witnesses say racing) and was underage. What a combination. Is this simply a tragic consequence of youthful indiscretion? Is it a manifestation of the lack of a speedway or racetrack for drivers to “open up” their rides? Is it a lack of commitment by law enforcement and lawmakers to seriously address these horrific incidents?

As with any recipe (this one being for disaster), it’s a little bit of everything.

It has been oft repeated, and at the risk of sounding cliché, it all begins in the home. What value system has been instilled in an underage driver who believes that racing while drunk is a good choice? It speaks to the system of decision and consequence taught by the child’s parents.

You don’t agree? A baby is born with a clean slate, an empty vessel, if you will. Yes, there may be some genetic predeterminations, but behavior is a learned component. You may not be able to control the color of your child’s eyes, blood type or whether he’s right- or left-handed. But you do have an effect on behavior.

Drinking while underage, then driving and racing are behaviors. Parents are responsible for their child’s behavior. If a child commits heinous acts, I look to the parents first for an explanation.

It is ridiculous to blame a lack of racing facilities for this dangerous behavior. There were incidents of illegal racing taking the lives of innocent, and not so innocent, people when Campbell Raceway Park was open. Plus, we are human beings. We have the capacity for critical thinking and reason. Do we deserve a pass if we engage in dangerous and illegal behavior because we don’t have a safer alternative? If that’s the case, we’re in more trouble than I thought.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It’s no mystery as to where the favored speed zones are on Oahu. Specific segments of H-1, -2 and -3, the Pali and, of course, Kalanianaole Highway. Dispatching a dedicated patrol of HPD officers would do wonders to mitigate this illegal activity.

We hear proclamations from elected officials that public safety is the most important priority.

The state of Hawaii and the city of Honolulu combined have at their disposal more than $10 billion a year. They have the authority and the finances.

What more do they need?

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