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How to Work Together to Improve Pedestrian Safety


Thanks to warm weather and gorgeous sights, walking is a popular pastime and a convenient mode of transportation in Hawaii. Unfortunately, crashes involving pedestrians make this healthy activity more dangerous than it should be. Drivers and pedestrians must work together to improve pedestrian safety.

Pedestrian Deaths

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), pedestrian deaths have been increasing. In 2021, there were 7,624 pedestrian deaths – an increase of 77% compared to 2010. During this same period, other traffic fatalities increased by only 25%, meaning pedestrian deaths have surged disproportionately.

In Hawaii, the GHSA says there were 25 pedestrian deaths in 2021 and 29 in 2022 (according to preliminary data), making Hawaii one of 22 states to see an increase in total pedestrian deaths. Although some states have much higher totals, they may also have larger populations. The pedestrian fatality rate per 100,000 population was 2.01 in Hawaii in 2022. A study from the Schiller Kessler Group identified Hawaii as the second most dangerous state for pedestrians, based on data from 2017 to 2021.

Pedestrian deaths are a problem, but people can make a difference. The Hawaii Independent says Hawaii established the nation’s first Pedestrian Safety Month to combat the problem of pedestrian deaths in 2010. The month is observed every August.

Risks Increase When the Sun Sets

More people tend to be out during the daytime, but pedestrian fatalities increase at night.

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), only 19.36% of pedestrian fatalities happened during daylight hours, whereas 6.16% occurred at dusk or dawn, 39.10% occurred at night in lit areas, and 35.38% occurred at night in unlit areas.

Even if an area has street lighting, the roads (and the pedestrians on the roads) are less visible than during the day. Glare from lights may also be a problem. It’s also worth noting that, although the percentage of deaths that occur at dusk or dawn seems low, these are relatively short periods of time. Dusk and dawn may be dangerous because light levels change fast and the sun may be in drivers’ eyes.

Seniors Are Particularly Vulnerable

According to the NHTSA, seniors over the age of 65 make up only 15% of the population and are less likely to walk than other age groups, but they account for 18% of all pedestrian fatalities.

Seniors tend to be particularly vulnerable for several reasons. For example, they may walk more slowly, meaning they are in the street for a longer time when crossing. Slower reaction times may also make it harder for them to move out of harm’s way. If they are struck, they are more likely to be severely injured and may have a harder time recovering. Senior drivers also pose risks, due to slower reaction times and declining vision.

Safety Tips for Pedestrians

  • Cross at a crosswalk whenever possible. If there is no crosswalk, cross at a corner.
  • Before crossing, look left, then right, then left again and continue to stay vigilant while you walk (not run) across the street.
  • Always cross the street directly. Do not cross diagonally.
  • Do not try to race the light indicator if it’s counting down. Wait for the next walk sign.
  • Make yourself visible – drivers won’t stop for you if they don’t see you. Wear bright or reflective clothing. Before crossing in front of a stopped car, make eye contact with the driver.
  • If there’s a sidewalk, use it. If there’s no sidewalk, walk in the direction of oncoming traffic.

Safety Tips for Drivers

  • Make a conscious effort to look out for pedestrians.
  • Avoid distractions behind the wheel, such as food and smartphones. (In Hawaii, drivers are not allowed to use handheld devices or text while driving.)
  • Be especially cautious when it is dark. Use your headlights.
  • When approaching a crosswalk, be prepared to stop.
  • Exercise caution when backing out. It may be especially hard to see children.
  • Keep an eye out for pedestrians who may be hidden from view – for example, behind a car that’s in another lane or parked on the side of the street.
  • Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.

Together, pedestrians and drivers can make a difference. FICOH is partnering with Walk Wise Hawaii to support pedestrian safety. Contact us to learn more.