Friday, January 5, 2001
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Posted on: Friday, January 5, 2001

Enforcement needed on pedestrian safety

The fact that the number of pedestrian fatalities on Oahu last year was not out of line with historical averages is of little comfort to the friends and families of the victims.

Even one pedestrian death is one too many — a sad tribute to the deadly mix of inattentive drivers and/or careless pedestrians on our busy streets.

Last year, a large number of the fatalities involved older persons, who by nature may have mobility problems. But it would be foolish to lay the statistics off solely on the age of the victims. That implies that all would be fine if only all pedestrians were nimble enough to duck.

In response to the fatalities, city officials are talking about education, engineering and enforcement.

Education simply means reminding drivers and pedestrians alike of the dangers on our streets. That’s a worthy goal, but like all other worthy campaigns, it will only be heard so far.

Engineering means creating safer crossings, either with lights, over- or underpasses and other such improvements. When there is an obvious need and an obvious cure, this is a good solution.

But it is expensive, time-consuming and impossible to apply in every situation. We cannot build our way to perfect safety.

The third element, enforcement, should take a higher priority. Anyone who receives a ticket for jaywalking feels a bit foolish, but also a bit indignant that he or she would be cited for such a manini offense.

As we are so sadly learning, however, the offense is far from small. It can be deadly.

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