Tuesday, February 6, 2001
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Posted on: Tuesday, February 6, 2001

Pedestrian-safety legislation advances

By Ronna Bolante
Advertiser Capitol Bureau

Drivers who ignore pedestrians and whiz through crosswalks could face tough new fines under a bill approved by the House Committee on Transportation yesterday.

Dubbed the Pedestrian Bill of Rights, the measure requires motorists to yield for pedestrians at crosswalks and intersections or be fined $250 for a first offense. A second offense would cost $500, while a third or subsequent offense would cost $750.

Fines for jaywalking also would be increased to $250 for pedestrians who cross a street outside of a crosswalk when one is within 200 feet. The fine for a second offense would be $500; a third offense would cost $750.

Currently, the fine for failing to yield to a pedestrian is $77 for a first offense, and the fine for jaywalking is $55.

Some committee members said the fines were too high, but House Transportation Committee Chairman Joseph Souki said it will be up to the House Judiciary Committee to review the amounts when it hears the bill.

"I personally don’t consider it very excessive, considering (the) life that has been lost," said Souki, D-8th (Waiehu, Maalaea, Napili). "I think it needs to serve as a lesson."

The committee scrapped a proposal to require that all motorists stop when they encounter pedestrians in crosswalks.

Current law requires that motorists yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, but motorists can proceed once pedestrians are safely out of the way.

Under the proposed change, drivers would have had to wait until pedestrians left crosswalks before proceeding.

Capt. Bryan Wauke of the Honolulu Police Department Traffic Division advised lawmakers against changing that portion of the law.

"We looked at the practicality of it," Wauke said. "Look at Beretania — it has five to six lanes. Or if you’re making a left turn, you’ll have to wait till the pedestrian reaches the other side. You might not even get to turn at a busy intersection.

"We feel traffic laws should be strengthened as far as penalties, but we still want it to be practical."

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