New traffic laws effective July 1

LIHUE — Governor David Ige signed four bills into law last week aimed at preventing traffic fatalities.

Two Senate bills clarify pedestrian right-of-way laws at intersections and crosswalks, another establishes a committee to make recommendations for red-light running pilot programs in Honolulu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii by 2020, and a House bill “seeks to prevent and ultimately eliminate traffic fatalities.”

Earlier this month, a nationwide study by an insurance comparison website found that Hawaii drivers are more likely to run red lights and stop signs than drivers in every other state in the country, except for New York and Delaware.

In the survey data scientists with the company Insurify analyzed a database of over 1.6 million car insurance applications to determine the states with the largest share of drivers who have failed to stop at a red light or stop sign at some point within the last seven years. Hawaii ranks third.

“Hawaii is composed of primarily smaller roadways and has few major highways in comparison to other states,” said a summary of the state’s traffic situation included in the study.

“This dense distribution of stop signs predictably drives up the frequency of drivers running them. It may also contribute to the lack of red light cameras in the state if the majority of intersections are marked with stop signs instead.”

Below are brief descriptions of each of the new laws, according to a Hawaii Department of Transportation press release.

Senate Bill 663 – Adds a new chapter to the Hawaii Revised Statutes on Photo Red Light Imaging Detector Systems effective on July 1, 2050; directs the department of transportation to establish a red light running committee to review the act and present recommendations to the Legislature.

Senate Bill 98 – Clarifies that vehicles must stop for pedestrians when any part or extension of the pedestrian is beyond the curb or edges of a traversable roadway or when the pedestrian moves onto the roadway within an intersection or crosswalk.

Senate Bill 693 – Adds language on countdown timers to HRS §291C-33. Per the new language “…no pedestrian shall start to cross the roadway in the direction of such signal [i.e., a signal equipped with a countdown timer] once the countdown begins, but any pedestrian who has partially completed … crossing when the countdown begins shall complete the crossing to a sidewalk or safety island before the countdown timer ends.”

House Bill 757 – Requires HDOT and the county transportation departments to adopt a Vision Zero policy that seeks to prevent and ultimately eliminate traffic fatalities through a combination of engineering, enforcement, education, and emergency response strategies with a focus on equity.

“The bills signed into law by Gov. Ige today are a tremendous boost to our highway safety programs,” said HDOT Deputy Director for Highways, Ed Sniffen, in the department’s press release. “We thank the governor, the state Legislature, and our Transportation Committee chairs for their guidance and support this past session and for having the vision to get these bills passed.”


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