Monday, February 5, 2001
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Posted on: Monday, February 5, 2001

Pedestrian safety sought

By Scott Ishikawa
Advertiser Capitol Bureau

After a deadly year of accidents involving pedestrians, the Legislature is moving to increase penalties against drivers and strengthen existing laws in what is being called the Pedestrian Bill of Rights.

House Bill 414 would require motorists to stop for pedestrians at intersections and in crosswalks or face a first-offense mandatory fine of $250. A second offense would cost $500, and a third or subsequent offense, $750.

Under current law, drivers are required to "yield" to pedestrians. Lawmakers wanted clearer, stronger language requiring them to "stop."

Also, fines for jaywalkers would also be increased to $250, $500 and $750. A person can be charged with jaywalking if a crosswalk is within 200 feet.

The current fine for failing to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks is $77, and the fine for jaywalking is $55.

Twenty-four pedestrians were killed last year on Oahu, police said. Ten were killed in crosswalks.

Under the measure, drivers would be required to stop at least one car length away from a person in a crosswalk. The measure also would clearly give pedestrians the right of way at all intersections with traffic signals or other traffic-control devices, and particularly over vehicles turning into a crosswalk on a green light. The legislation was introduced by Reps. Joe Souki, D-8th (Waiehu, Maalaea, Napili) and Marilyn Lee, D-38th (Waipio, Mililani).

If a pedestrian is crossing a street where there is no crosswalk, vehicles would be required to stop until the pedestrian reaches the median or opposite side of the roadway. Drivers in all adjacent lanes also would be required to stop.

Laws written in 1971 to protect pedestrians are outdated today because traffic is heavier and roads are wider, said state Department of Transportation spokeswoman Marilyn Kali.

"Most of our highways were two lanes 30 years ago. Today, they’re mostly four to six lanes," she said.

The House Transportation Committee was scheduled to hold a hearing on the bill at 9 a.m. today in House Conference Room 309 at the Capitol.

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