KAHULUI — A police department is using Hawaii’s creole language and some humor to get motorists to slow down, with signs like, “Eh, slow down. No drive like one clown.”
The Maui Police Department’s anti-speeding campaign using Hawaii Pidgin hopes to crack down on a serious problem. So far this year, Maui police have pulled over nearly 5,000 people for speeding — a 40% increase from the year before, Hawaii News Now reported.
Traffic Commander Lt. William Hankins’ original proposed message was, “Please slow down, don’t drive like a clown.”
A Department of Transportation official wanted it to be a “little bit more local,” he said.
“I gave them the Caucasian version and he came up with the local version and it’s a big hit,” Hankins said.
Pidgin is a mix of the grammar and words from languages spoken by Hawaiian, Filipino, Chinese, Puerto Rican and other workers who toiled in Hawaii’s sugar plantations.
Kahului resident Wade Kitagawa thinks the messages are convincing: “People will listen, they’ll look at it and laugh but they’ll understand what it means.”
Many of the fatal crashes this year were directly related to speed, Hankins said.
“If we can do this, put a smile on somebody’s face and bring awareness, and keep someone alive, we did our job,” he said.
This isn’t the first time officials used the way local drivers speak to get them to obey traffic laws. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation tried in 2014 to get drivers to signal when changing lanes with signs that read, “Use Yah Blinkah,” WCVB-TV reported.