A new report from Smart Growth America highlights the risk of being struck by a car and killed while walking in Hawai‘i, especially for kupuna. Dangerous by Design 2019 ranked Hawai‘i 30th in the nation based on the number of overall pedestrian fatalities. However, Hawai‘i is the third-most dangerous state for pedestrians 50 and older.
The report found that roads in Maui’s metropolitan area of Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina were the most dangerous in the state for all pedestrians with a Pedestrian Danger Index of 70, compared the national average of 55 and the state PDI of 36. Urban areas of Honolulu are generally safer than other areas of the state with a PDI of 31. (The Pedestrian Danger Index is based on the number of pedestrians killed by drivers, controlled to the number of people who walk to work.) Honolulu’s PDI improved slightly from the 2009, when it was 34.6.
“Our kupuna should not have to cross their fingers that they will be safe every time they cross the street,” said Jackie Boland, AARP Hawai‘i’s Outreach Director. “Hawaii has spent more than a decade ranked in the top three states for older pedestrian/auto crashes per capita and it is time for the counties and the state to look at the root cause of these crashes that are disproportionately affecting our kupuna and design specific counter measures to address them.”
In the decade between 2008 and 2017, drivers struck and killed 226 pedestrians in Hawai‘i. A disproportionate number of the deaths were kupuna. About 59.3 percent of the pedestrian deaths, or 134 people, were 50 and older. A 50+ pedestrian in Hawai‘i is 2.6 times more likely to die on the state’s streets and highways than someone under 50.
The Dangerous By Design report looked at the difference between per capita deaths of older and younger pedestrians to rank how dangerous a state is for older residents. Hawai’i follows the District of Columbia, where older residents are 2.88 times more likely to die on roads and Vermont’s relative risk of 2.66. New York and Massachusetts are the other most dangerous states for older pedestrians.
Hawai’i also has the dubious distinction of having the highest per-capita deaths of people 65 and older, with 3.56 pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 residents 65 or older. The average is down from the last Dangerous by Design report in 2016 when Hawai‘i’s per capita death rate was 4.96 pedestrian deaths per 100,000 residents 65 and older. Ten years ago, in the 2009 report, Hawai’i led the nation in 65+ pedestrian deaths with an average of nearly seven deaths per capita.
Honolulu, Kauai and the state have passed Complete Streets laws to require transportation departments to look at access, safety and mobility for all Hawai‘i road users and not just vehicles Honolulu also recently passed an Age-Friendly Honolulu law, which will require the city to review all city streets to see if they meet people of all ages.
In addition, the counties and the state are taking steps to implement Vision Zero policies to prevent and ultimately eliminate all traffic-related fatalities. Hawai‘i County created a Vision Zero task force in March. Maui County set a Vision Zero goal, Honolulu passed a Vision Zero resolution last year and Kauai County has taken steps to improve their streets. In addition, the Legislature passed House Bill 757, CD1 to require state and county transportation departments to adopt Vision Zero policies and take concrete steps to improve engineering, enforcement, education and emergency response to reduce traffic deaths.
“There has been some progress but much more needs to be done to educate drivers and pedestrians, enforce existing laws and engineer safer streets,” Boland said. “We support Vision Zero policies to prevent and ultimately eliminate all traffic-related fatalities and urge the governor to sign HB 757, CD1 to take real action to reduce and eliminate traffic deaths in Hawai‘i.”
To view the supplemental report for Hawai’i visit: https://smartgrowthamerica.org/app/uploads/2019/06/Dbd2019_State_HI.pdf. The full Dangerous by Design report, including an interactive map of all pedestrian deaths in the last 10 years is available at https://smartgrowthamerica.org/dangerous-by-design/. Learn more about AARP’s work to promote complete streets and livable communities at https://www.aarp.org/livable-communities/getting-around/