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Today I write about the Interstate Highways in Hawaii. No confusing numbering system here on Oahu: H-1, H-2 and H-3. There you have it. So it should be simple you’d think to identify the locations along those three short freeways where car crashes happen the most often. But as the article below will show I was unable to get to the statistics I need. I will. But it will take more digging.

The goal isn’t to mourn for past losses or to revel in gory details. The goal is accident prevention. The goal is to open a dialog with persons in Hawaii and around the country who are concerned about safety on our highways to look specifically at the Interstate Highway System and ask tough questions and look for real solutions.

Its not my idea. I joined two other law firms, Church Wyble, P.C. and Devon Glass from Lansing, Michigan, and The Lombardi Law Firm and Steve Lombardi from Des Moines, Iowa, who got the idea of opening up a national dialog on the INTERNET using social technology, to prevent injuries and save lives. Wouldn’t it be great if a life could be saved in each of our three states? I’ll settle for one in Hawaii and hope for more.

Let’s get something straight at the outset about the Interstate Highway System. People in every state go as fast as they can on those highways and the speeding drivers get irritated at drivers going the speed limit.

Human nature isn’t always law abiding whether in Hawaii, Michigan or Iowa. And the human tendency to want to go fast, get there now, and get around this dawdler in the car ahead who has the audacity to go the speed limit, is consistent throughout the diversity of culture and gender of the country.

The consequences of the need for speed are not just traffic tickets and hurled obscenities. Death and injury and ruined lives are what people like Devon Glass from Church Wyble, P.C. and Steve Lombardi from The Lombardi Law Firm and I see every week in our offices. And so we want to look at what could done in our communities in Des Moines, Iowa and Lansing, Michigan and Honolulu, Hawaii, to reduce the number of interstate highway deaths and injuries. The Lombardi Law Firm, Church Wyble, P.C. and the network of Injury Board attorneys across the country would rather help prevent a death any day, than take in a new case where our job is to help a family put their life back together after someone gets killed or paralyzed in a high speed crash on an interstate highway. Steve Lombardi and Devon Glass have already kicked off the interstate highway safety project:

Who wins and loses when a Ford Focus and a fully-loaded semi-truck crash? – Steve Lombardi

Are Double-Bottomed Semis More or Less Dangerous to You? – Devon Glass

Hawaii is now adding to this series of articles _ hopefully to become a dialog with people concerned about highway safety.

A lot of attorney advertising is about how attorneys for injured people fight for their clients with the insurance companies, and how we get justice for victims of negligent or reckless behavior. Those are noble goals and righteous jobs. Attorneys also talk about discouraging negligent behavior by filing lawsuits against wrongdoers and bringing them to justice in Court. Also a noble goal.

In this series Lombardi, Glass and Parsons are stepping back a bit and asking how we can help prevent the injuries in the first place. That way we can meet the families who come to us in the midst of tragedy at a sunset in Waikiki or a football game in Lansing or on a bike ride in Iowa. We don’t have to sit around a conference table in a law office talking about things that were and things that never will be again. Death and serious injury are all about that.

The goal we have set up for ourselves requires people to get into a conversation with us about their experiences and ideas. This isn’t a lecture, its a plea for help. This isn’t telling you what is. Its asking you what you see and what you think. Let me explain.

Speed is a major problem on the tight, curvy, hilly streets on Oahu. When people get out of the narrow streets of the hillside neighborhoods and get on a freeway, they love to open it up and let it roll. No stop signs. Lots of lanes. The pent up frustration is unleashed.

Three factors make this unleashed quest for speed more dangerous.

First we have a lot of cars and trucks. Oahu has a population of just under 1 million. It seems like all 1 million have a car. The streets are crowded and the interstate highways in hawaii are crowded and fast.

Second we have a lot of senior citizens because people in Hawaii never get old. And the senior citizens drive the speed limit ….. or slower. I am sure that Lombardi and Glass will agree that the same is true in Iowa and Michigan.

Third, we have rain. That means slippery roads and diminished visibility. Hydroplaning of a light automobile is a frequent factor in out most serious car crashes. Your car can hydroplane under the speed limit.

The speed limit on the H-1, H-2 and H-3 interstate Highways on Oahu is 55 mph. That is, except in a few locations where it drops to 45. One stretch of the H-1 that runs through the Punahou area where the posted limit is 45 mph draws more hate mail to the Honolulu Star Bulletin and Honolulu Advertiser than high taxes and the rights of Native Hawaiians. They say the speed kills but in Honolulu, lack of speed creates havoc.

So what can be done to reduce injury and death on the H-1, H-2 and H-3?

I am going to research the places along these highways where a high number of injuries and deaths occur. The State Department of Transportation should be looking at death and ijury statistics to see if engineering solutions might lower accidents at specific locations.

Guess what? They don’t. The last stats for speed related deaths on Oahu are in 2001. They must have figured that the State of Hawaii should hide the facts from the public. Devon! Steve! Do they do this in Iowa and Michigan?

What I’d like to do is gather community information about dangerous entrances, exits and merges on the H-1, H-2 and H-3. Please Comment with your knowledge.

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