Curbing Fatalities Curbing Fatalities

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - December 06, 2006

The number of fatalities on Hawaii roads are reaching record numbers, marking an 11-year high. As of this writing, 82 people have died in 75 crashes, and this figure is likely to rise as we approach the holidays.


Speeding. Drunk driving. Recklessness.

It is little wonder we have such statistics if you simply drive the roads in Hawaii. Anecdotally speaking, how many times have you been motoring along on the H-1, H-2 or H-3 to have cars and motorcycles blazing by you while swerving from lane to lane? It’s not just the freeways. Kalanianaole, Kamehameha, Likelike and Pali highways are also favorites for speed demons.

And I do mean demons.

For those of you who use our roadways as your private speed-ways, shame on you. Your selfish, tremendously dangerous behavior is risking not only your lives, but the lives of innocent people. Your pursuit of the fastest time is shredding the lives of so many.

Think about the consequence of your actions. Every life on the road is in jeopardy when you are gunning your souped-up ride. If you want to play fast and loose with your own life, fine. But don’t drag others down with you. Each of the 82 people who died this year have families who will never see them again. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunties, uncles and tutus - all gone. Their lives were lost senselessly in the pursuit of speed.

You want to impress somebody? Make it home without killing anyone.

“Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.”

In theory, it makes total sense. Of course you should take the keys, hide them, lock the doors and threaten those who are drunk and want to drive. But have you ever tried? It’s not as easy as you think. Oftentimes the rationalization we make while seeing those walking out the door is, “Well, at least I tried.”

Not good enough - especially not with the news last week that Hawaii is No. 2 in the nation in alcohol-related traffic deaths.

Trying to reason with combative drunks hell-bent on driving home is a difficult challenge. Ultimately, it is their own responsibility if they escape your protests. If we are going to take the directive to not let friends drive drunk seriously, however, there must be a consequence which will cut through the alcohol-induced fog of the potential killer. What kind of consequences do people understand most?

If your “friend” refuses to accept that he/she is too drunk to drive, why not get on the phone and call the police? It would be appropriate to call authorities to report that a drunk driver is getting behind the wheel of a car. When you proceed to tell them his/her name, make and model of the car and location, maybe the driver will relent. If that fails, make a call to the drinker’s parents, spouse or kids. If they want to behave like a child, treat them like one. Perhaps, at the beginning of the night, you make a deal that if someone has too much, but absolutely, positively has to leave, then each person drinking puts $20 in the pot and the cash is used to call a cab. The idea here is to figure out a way to get that driver to give up his/her keys and not drive while drunk. Do whatever it takes.

Reckless driving is the most frustrating. You’re not being a mental midget by dangerously speeding and you don’t have the excuse of being a total moron by driving drunk. By driving recklessly, you are simply being irresponsible.

Inattentive driving contributes to dangers on the road. Please, stop talking on your cell phone, putting on makeup, listening to music on headphones, reading, eating and the myriad of other distractions we allow to interfere with our No. 1 job when driving - paying attention to the road and other drivers.

Lawmakers and bureaucrats can pass all the laws they want to try to save lives on the road. Ultimately, until we are willing to slow down, stop drinking and driving, and make driving our only priority when operating a vehicle, we will continue this senseless loss of life.

Before we start looking for others to solve our problems, we must make sure we are doing everything possible to end the traffic fatalities.

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