School speeding ‘Hot Spots’ mapped

What can you do with $297?

That is the fine for a speeding infraction within a school zone.

It is only one of the points AIG Hawai‘i Insurance was trying to make when a group from the O‘ahu offices joined about 60 students, parents and teachers from Wilcox Elementary School Wednesday morning for the “Hot Spots” campaign.

Joining the group were AIG Hawai‘i employees Gesmynn Viquelia and Marietta Oyamot of the Kaua‘i branch who spent an hour of their morning with the group before opening up the office.

A Kaua‘i Police Department patrol car, with its lights flashing along Hardy Street, brought attention to the “Hot Spots” group who lined the street fronting the school in the midst of school drop-off traffic.

Wilcox School was identified as one of AIG Hawai‘i’s hot spots for the first quarter of 2007, according to an AIG press release.

The Hot Spots program aims to increase community awareness about the dangers of speeding while emphasizing pedestrian safety.

Joining the group was AIG Hawai‘i president and chief executive officer Robin Campaniano who said he spent two months as a student at Wilcox School when his family first moved to Hawai‘i.

“Speeding isn’t just a problem on O‘ahu. It’s become a serious issue on Kaua‘i, too,” Campaniano said.

Hardy Street is one of Lihu‘e’s main thoroughfares, even though the speed limit in front of the school is 15 mph. Wilcox Elementary School has two crossing guards assigned to monitor Hardy Street and help students cross the busy street.

Parents and school officials say they have seen an increase in the number of motorists speeding past the school.

“The safety of our students is always of concern, especially when they’re being dropped off or picked up from school and having to cross the busy street in front of our campus,” said Rachel Watarai, the school’s principal. “It is critical that motorists abide by the posted speed limit and exercise caution when turning into the school’s driveway. We don’t want any of our keiki to be seriously hurt because of speeding, inattentiveness or negligence.”

Lt. Mark Scribner of the Kaua‘i Police Department accompanied Campaniano and pointed out two other Kaua‘i hot spots.

They were Kapa‘a Elementary School and Koloa School, both located on busy thoroughfares. Other schools identified by AIG Hawai‘i in the first quarter include Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School and Hanalei Elementary School.

“This is a cooperative effort between the police department, the school, the PTSA, the parents and the community,” Campaniano said. “This is the first time we’ve taken the program outside O‘ahu. But we need people to communicate with us before we come out.”

According to the KPD, 14 traffic fatalities occurred last year with speeding as the cause for six of the 14.

“The AIG Hawai‘i’s Hot Spots event is a good way to remind motorists to obey the speed limit, not just near schools, but on all roads,” Scribner said. “It is important that we get the word out into our communities that speeding and endangering pedestrians will not be tolerated — especially in school zones where children are the most vulnerable.”

Lisa Halverson, the public relations officer for AIG Hawai‘i, said they’ve hosted 16 similar events on O‘ahu, with Wednesday’s event the first on the Neighbor Islands. In addition to Campaniano and Halverson, she said several employees from the O‘ahu offices also made the trip to work with the Kaua‘i program.

Each quarter, AIG Hawai‘i releases a list of five “Hot Spots” where speeding is a problem. To date, more than 40 hot spots across the state have been identified and AIG Hawai‘i has received numerous requests for Hot Spots events.

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