Save pedestrians from themselves

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Save pedestrians from themselves

Illustration by Ashley Marie Lardizabal

Illustration by Ashley Marie Lardizabal

Illustration by Ashley Marie Lardizabal

Illustration by Ashley Marie Lardizabal

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Hawaii is a killer state.

It ranks 8th in the country for pedestrian fatalities and  leads the nation as the number one place for senior citizens who die while walking.

A recent bill introduced by state lawmakers aims to reduce Hawaii’s pedestrian fatalities, and if passed, will change the way people walk on the street.

“House Bill 2723” would prohibit people from using electronic devices while crossing roads, highways or streets. Violators would be fined $250.

A similar bill, “Bill 43,” was proposed in 2011 by councilwoman Ann Kobayashi but was not passed.

Both bills confront the same problem: distracted pedestrians on their phones, iPods or tablets, a growing safety concern across the nation.

Hawaii’s roads are treacherous. Pedestrian deaths rank 8th in the nation with senior citizen fatalities leading the nation. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons


The bill has passed its second reading, but the lawmakers in the state must take action and pass it through completely. Saving the lives of pedestrians is of utmost importance.

According to a new study, texting while walking makes people four times more likely to ignore oncoming traffic.

A study by Stateline reports that pedestrian injuries from phone usage has risen 35 percent from 2010. The federal Fatality Analysis Reporting system blames “a half-dozen pedestrians deaths a year to ‘portable electronic devices,’ including phones and music players.”

People  must pay attention while crossing the street. In any situation, especially when confronted by moving vehicles, pedestrians face serious consequences, including death.

While it is true that electronic devices are convenient and most people have them, there is a time and place to use such devices but that is not on the street.

If pedestrians are in a crosswalk, too often they assume they are safe. However, too many pedestrians are killed each year here while in a crosswalk. Inattention to crossing merely introduces one more danger even if walkers are in a designated area.  

Safety for all is more important than a single text or social media post.

“House Bill 2723” was proposed because of the increased number of distracted walkers on the streets, an issue that should not be a problem in the first place.

Unless distracted walkers learn to pocket their phones, listen to music on sidewalks or watch streaming video other than on the streets, the roads will continue to be dangerous for everyone.

Pedestrian fatality rates will continue to increase.   

Lawmakers must pass this bill. If  walkers cannot protect themselves, the law must.