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Wayne Parsons
Wayne Parsons
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Hawaii Crosswalk Safety Chronicles: On a Day of Tragedy, What is the law?

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Two teenage students were struck in a crosswalk on Queen Emma Street in Honolulu today. he driver said that she saw the girls. No one said this, but I will – the girls also should be able to see a car. So what happened? Why did these people not avoid a clearly avoidable collision between a car and the fragile bodies of 2 students? Don’t get me wrong. If the girls were in a crosswalk the driver had to stop. That is the law.

That is where Vernon Weight comes into this story. Vernon was probably the leading engineering authority on traffic signals, signs, lane markings and crosswalks in the country. He was based in San Francisco and for years he was on all of the decision making committees that set standards for these things.

I remember talking to Vernon about crosswalks. He said that in California they created crosswalk markings at all intersections and then were shocked with a increase in automobile incidents. After studying it they concluded that pedestrians felt so protected by the crosswalk lines that they walked in front of oncoming cars without looking! The pedestrians were getting this attitude that they were safe if they were in those crossed lines. They got possessory about their "rights" and they challenged the cars. Turf war. The driver reaching down to pick up a French fry from the car floor didn’t get it. Bang!

Vernon told me that they went back and took away a lot of crosswalk markings.

Crosswalks are just there to alert pedestrians where to walk, and to alert drivers where to stop. Both drivers of automobiles and pedestrians crossing streets still have to pay attention and make decisions. Decisions like "stop walking" and "stop the car".

Here is what the State tells us about crosswalks. Here is the law that we all need to know:

New Pedestrian Law

The Driver of a vehicle shall STOP and yield the right of way, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling, or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger. The fine for violating this law is $97.

Restrictions on Pedestrians Crossing Roadways

1) No pedestrian shall enter any marked or unmarked crosswalk or part thereof when vehicular traffic is so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard, nor shall any pedestrian enter any marked or unmarked crosswalk where traffic signs forbid such entry.

2) No pedestrian shall cross any roadway within any business district except within a marked or unmarked crosswalk, nor any roadway in any residence district within 200 feet of any intersection except in a marked or unmarked crosswalk at such intersection.

Pedestrian Control Signals

Whenever special pedestrian control signals, exhibiting the words “Walk” or “Don’t Walk” or the symbols of a walking person or an upraised palm are in place such signals shall indicate as follows:

(1) Walk or Walking Person. Pedestrians facing such signal may proceed across the roadway in the direction of the signal and shall be given the right of way by the drivers of all vehicles.

(2) Don’t Walk or Upraised Palm. No pedestrian shall start to cross the roadway in the direction of such signal, whether flashing or steady, but any pedestrian who has partially completed the pedestrian’s crossing on the Walk or Walking Person signal shall complete the crossing to a sidewalk or safety island while the Don’t Walk or Upraised Palm signal is showing.

(3) Pedestrians shall obey instructions on any traffic-control device specifically applicable, unless otherwise directed by a police officer.

(4) Please see attachment on samples of instructions to cross at control signal lights.

Pedestrians to Use Right Half of Crosswalks

Pedestrians shall move, whenever practicable, upon the right half of crosswalks.

Crossing at Other Than Crosswalks

(1) Pedestrians intending to cross a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.

(2) Between two adjacent intersections that have traffic-control signals in operation pedestrians shall not cross at any place except within a marked crosswalk.

(3) No pedestrian shall cross an intersection diagonally unless authorized by traffic-control devices, and shall do so only in accordance with traffic-control devices pertaining to such movements.

Pedestrians on Roadway

(1) Where sidewalks are provided, it is unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon adjacent roadway, bicycle lane, or bicycle path.

(2) Where sidewalks are not provided, pedestrians walking along and upon any roadway, when practical, walk only on the left side of the roadway or it’s shoulder facing traffic from the opposite direction.

Pedestrians’ Right of Way on Sidewalks

The driver of a vehicle emerging from or entering an alley, building, private road, or driveway shall yield the right of way to any pedestrian approaching on any sidewalk extending across the ally, building entrance, road, or driveway.

Penalty for Violating Pedestrians Laws – $70

I have written about the study about crosswalk injuries. The City & County of Honolulu has abandoned plans to bring in new technology that is being used on the mainland to stop crosswalk injuries. I am informed. Shocking. We have a pedestrian safety crisis in Hawaii and the City & County of Honolulu shuts down a program to stop the carnage? Let me guess. They government officials are playing with the tax dollars and a few people maimed in crosswalks don’t matter. They think they aren’t accountable.

Why do we always have to resort to lawsuits?

Why isn’t Hawaii – in the face of outrageous crosswalk injury stats – doing something about it? Read this and tell me what you think:

The Hawaii Pedestrian Crosswalk Safety Chronicles: Innovative Solution for Crosswalk Safety