The number of lives claimed in deadly crashes on Hawaii island is now double what it was this same time a year ago.
So far this year, 20 people have been killed on the island’s roads. It’s a saddening and troubling number.
So how do we turn things around?
Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim says he wants to meet with the Hawaii Police Department and the prosecutor’s office. Together, he wants to figure out how they can cut down on speeding and drunk driving, and get more people to pay attention on the road.
“What else can we do? What must we do? Because we must do something to make us more responsible drivers,” Kim said.
According to Hawaii County police, speeding is a big factor. It’s involved in 14 of the 20 deaths this year.
In the past 10 years, at least half of the fatalities involved speeding. Police say drugs and alcohol are also to blame for about half of fatal crashes.
“Why are we in such a rush to get from here to there that we overtake and take corners here and there when we know we shouldn’t?” Kim said.
With each tragedy, families are paying a heavy price. Kaiya Serquina is among them. Her brother, Travis, was killed last month after he was rear-ended on Highway 130.
“I haven’t moved on. I’m not ready to move on,” Serquina told KHON2. “I battle this every day. Every day I’m here. Every day I come, I water flowers, I talk to him.”
The crash happened on May 14, Mother’s Day. Serquina and her mother come to the roadside memorial regularly.
Much like the mayor and others in the community, they would like to send a strong message to the drivers out there.
“I wish people would slow down a little bit. Think before you drink. Think before you get behind that wheel. Your choices can affect others,” Serquina said. “I think together, we can impact the community. That’s what we need to do. We need to tell people to slow down and we definitely to tell people think before you drink.”
Hawaii County police say they will look at the data and send more police presence in the areas where more of these crashes are happening.
“The best way to get our message across is traffic stops, seeing our officers out there,” said Capt. Samuel Jelsma, Hawaii Police Department. “When people do see our officers on the roadway, see that flashing blue light, it does tend to cause them to slow down.”
Everyone admits the solution isn’t easy, but as more people pay attention and relay the message, there is hope.