Pedestrians need to be seen

LIHUE — Lance Rae of Walk Wise Hawaii in Honolulu said Kauai has one pedestrian fatality to date — one too many.

Rae was at the McDonald’s restaurant in Lihue to help announce August as being the statewide pedestrian safety month with a theme of “Be Seen At Night.”

He walked through the busy restaurant, distributing safety items and leading pedestrian pledges with kupuna like Geri Ferreira who was enjoying an afternoon snack.

“People need to watch out for pedestrians,” Ferreira said. “I never walk, or cross the streets at certain places, because I don’t want to get hit by a car.”

Hawaii is the only state in the nation with a month dedicated to pedestrian safety.

“We have been using tray mats with pedestrian safety tips,” said Ruth Johnson of McDonald’s, Kauai. “Additionally, kupuna who receive the Seven Pedestrian Tips for Kupuna and take the pledge to become a safe pedestrian, will have a coupon for a free small coffee, or hot tea.”

McDonald’s, Walk Wise Hawaii and the Department of Transportationare are leading the effort to educate people on the importance of being visible while walking in the early morning and evening hours when most pedestrian-related crashed occur. The top reason for pedestrian accidents is inattentive behavior on both the part of the pedestrian, and the driver.

“We call those people ‘pedtextrians,’” Rae said. “They need to pay attention to the cars — not text while crossing the road.”

Lalea Hara, a seventh-grade student at the Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, is aware of being a good pedestrian because she walks home from school daily.

“We use the crosswalks to get across the street to Safeway,” the student said. “From there, we make our way to Kukui Grove, past Kmart and Pier 1 Imports before we get home. We always walk with our neighbors and have the older boys in the front, and in the back of us. We haven’t figured out how we’re going to get home if it rains. My mom picked us up, today when we were about a quarter-way home.”

The campaign is looking at creating heightened awareness of pedestrian safety with the ultimate goal of saving lives and making Hawaii a safer place to walk, Rae said.

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