Gov. Linda Lingle today said that tougher measures are needed to penalize drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. The year is barely three weeks old, she noted, but Hawaii has already seen at least four fatal pedestrian accidents. “These accidents, along with many other pedestrian fatalities that have plagued our state for the past several years, could have been prevented if drivers yielded the right-of-way to pedestrians,” Lingle said in a press release. The legislature passed a new crosswalk law in 2005, but did not include the stricter penalties the Lingle administration sought. Lingle said she is reintroducing the penalty legislation, which would require a $150 fine and a 90 day suspended sentence for a first violation. A second offense would bring a $300 fine and a 180-day license revocation. A third offense would bring a month of jail time, plus a $1,000 fine and a year-long license revocation.
“Too many of our residents and visitors, especially our children and senior citizens, are being put at risk by drivers who fail to slow down and yield the right-of-way to pedestrians,” Lingle said. “The measures we are proposing will serve as a strong deterrent and remind drivers that they need to obey our crosswalk law and put an end to reckless driving.”
According to the State Department of Transportation, there were 29 pedestrian deaths in 2006, compared to 36 in 2005 a decrease many attribute to the 2005 crosswalk law. Hawaii, which ranked 4th nationally in pedestrian deaths in 2004, now sits in 11th place.