Lawmakers consider restrictions on ‘dangerous wheels’

Honolulu police say so-called “dangerous wheels” are a problem on the roadway and even in a crowded parking lot.

Now, police and the state Department of Transportation are calling on lawmakers for new restrictions to get them off the streets.

The problem isn’t with the wheels themselves, but the ornaments people attach to them. There are several times of ornaments with names like gorilla pokes, superpoke elbows, giraffe necks and spikes.

Police say they have seen pictures on the mainland of vehicles with spikes that extend some 12 inches out from a wheel, and they do not want to see them appear here in Hawaii.

Officials say the recent rehabilitation work on the H-1 Freeway, which ended up with lanes that are narrower, may lead to incidents where vehicles with spikes could come into contact with other vehicles.

“With the narrowing of the traffic lanes on the H-1 Freeway, if the wheels stick out greater than four inches in distance, it might cause damage in case cars come in contact with each other,” said Maj. Calvin Tong, commander of HPD’s Traffic Division.

Officials say they want to regulate ornaments on wheels because they could also pose a hazard to people who walk through crowded parking lots and come into contact with a “dangerous wheel.”

KHON2 asked if HPD knew of people getting hurt or vehicles getting damaged because of dangerous wheels.

“I don’t have the numbers, but there have been reports of people brushing up against cars that did have these spikes,” said Tong.

The proposal, HB1011 now under review, would ban any ornament that extends at least four inches beyond the outer edge of the rim of a wheel.

Truckers say if there is a law, they would need an exemption, since many of the commercial trucks that are purchased have covers on their wheels that extend five inches beyond the rim of their wheels.

“If you’re next to a truck, and that truck is moving, you don’t want to get within five feet of it, much less five inches,” said Gareth Sakakida, managing director of the Hawaii Transportation Association. “Even if the vehicle is parked, it’s really not that easy to get within inches of the thing and accidentally hurt yourself.”

Jack Manchester, sales manager at Dynamic Motorsports in Kakaako, says he doesn’t believe it’s that big of a problem.

“People who do have them are those that drive the big trucks (like the dual-tire type trucks). Some of them have plastic, some are aluminum. The aluminum, if used incorrectly, can cause damage,” he said.

Still, Manchester estimates that a very small percentage of people buy spikes, and he says the plastic ones break easily upon contact.

On Monday, HB1011 moved out of a joint hearing before the state House committees on Judiciary and Consumer Protection and Commerce, after first being heard in the committee on Transportation.

A similar measure was deferred last month in the state Senate.

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