Friday, February 9, 2001
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Posted on: Friday, February 9, 2001

Bill to keep children out of truck beds advances

Ronna Bolante
Advertiser Capitol Bureau

Children younger than 17 years old will no longer be allowed to ride in the back of pickup trucks on Oahu under a bill approved by the House Committee on Transportation this week.

Currently children 12 and younger are prohibited from riding in truck beds, but Rep. Willie Espero wants to expand the ban to those 16 years old and younger.

He introduced the bill in response to a number of child injuries and fatalities in recent years, including the death of 16-year-old Taulen Fujihara of Kaneohe last month.

Rep. Barbara Marumoto, who supports a total ban on passengers in the back of pickup trucks, praised yesterday’s committee decision.

"Any step forward is good," said Marumoto, R-17th (Kahala, Waialae Iki). "The more people we keep out of pickup trucks, the more lives we save."

Espero said he set the age at 17 as a compromise between a total ban and the current age requirement.

"A 17-year-old could be an adult who graduated from high school and in the work force, so I thought it would be good cutoff point," said Espero, D-41st (Ewa Beach).

The bill originally called for a statewide increase in the age requirement for all truck bed passengers.

The committee amended the measure to apply only to counties with populations of 250,000 or more, and only Oahu would fall into this category. If approved, the measure would take effect Jan. 1, 2003.

"They (Neighbor Island residents) do a lot of agricultural work," said Transportation Committee Chairman Joseph Souki, D-8th (Waiehu, Maalaea, Napili). "They don’t go quite as fast as on the freeways, and it’s part of the culture."

The bill moves to the House Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Committee for further consideration.

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