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Transportation officials want community feedback to make roads safer for all

A multilingual sign at an intersection in San Francisco notifies people about a pedestrian fatality.
Catherine Cruz
A multilingual sign at an intersection in San Francisco notifies people about a pedestrian fatality.

The state reported 116 traffic fatalities in 2022. In an ongoing effort to prevent more deaths, transportation officials are asking the public to fill out a traffic safety survey.

"Every one of these numbers, or persons was important to people in their communities," Director of Transportation Director Ed Sniffen said. "I wish that we could make sure we tell the stories a lot more about the people who were affected, those that were killed."

"I think all of us would be a lot more mindful while driving through areas to make sure we keep everybody safe," he said.

Sniffen said information from the survey will be used to help direct resources to areas with traffic safety issues. Raised crosswalks and traffic delineators have already been installed on roadways like Pali Highway.

"Because of that, we have more controlled speed, we have a lot more yielding for pedestrians that are waiting to cross. We've had no pedestrian crashes since the time we put them in. So the numbers are showing they're working tremendously," Sniffen said.

He also said the red light cameras installed in Honolulu late last year are working as intended.

"We have three operational right now. The great thing is all of the camera locations that we had installed that are operational so far have seen reductions in the numbers of violations at every turn," he told HPR.

"When we started off collecting the baseline data, we were averaging 10 to 12 violations per day. When we activated the red light cameras, that educational portion to make sure we started issuing warnings rather than violations, there were about five to six per day. After we started the violation portion, it's down to about two to three per day. So we're going in the right direction," Sniffen said.

Sniffen said he’s hopeful that the red light cameras will adjust driver behavior. After the initial two-year study is done, he hopes the state will be able to put cameras at all intersections with potential safety issues.

Gov. Josh Green recently appointed Sniffen to head the department, taking over from Jade Butay. Sniffen was most recently the deputy director for the highways division.

To participate in the traffic safety survey, click here.

This interview aired on The Conversation on Jan. 25, 2023. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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