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Pedestrian fatality raises concerns over Nimitz Highway crosswalk

HONOLULU(KHON2)–A fatal pedestrian accident Monday night raises safety concerns about a crosswalk on Nimitz Highway.

Police said the motorcyclist was speeding when he changed lanes to pass cars that were stopped at a crosswalk waiting for pedestrians. The motorcyclist, who was not wearing a helmet, killed a 50-year-old female walking inside the crosswalk. The motorcycle rider was taken to the hospital in critical condition.

Steven Wong, the owner of Wong Way Driving Academy, stood on the sidewalk by the crosswalk on the corner of Sumner Street and Nimitz Highway–the location of Monday night’s fatal pedestrian accident.

The speed limit is 35 miles per hour and Wong commented on the cars whizzing by.

“Look how fast this car is going. That’s way over the speed limit,” said Wong.

Wong said that even though drivers should know to stop when they see other cars stopped by a crosswalk, they unfortunately don’t always do that.

“Most people, they don’t want to stop. So they’re going to try to find the shortest way around to avoid stopping. They’re going to pick the open lane,” Wong explained.

“Would I feel comfortable crossing here? No, not at all. Not here.”

Wong said it’s an especially dangerous crosswalk because it’s located right after a turn.

“You see (cars) coming around this corner? If you’re coming fast, you might not see a pedestrian getting ready to cross,” Wong explained.

Because the area has such a large homeless community, drivers should be even more cautious.

“There’s just a lot of foot traffic that’s going to possibly be in front of you. So you got to be super careful in this area,” explained Wong.

Chair of the Transportation Committee Senator Lorraine Inouye said she’s looking into a number of ways to make it safer for pedestrians to cross the street there.

“Either flashing lights or those lights that are created on the roads–we have those in Hilo near the Hilo Medical Center,” Inouye said.

Inouye is also drafting a resolution to review crosswalk locations–to see if they should be removed or added for safety reasons.

“We should assess all of these issues, in particular where the locations are with pedestrian crosswalks.”

In a statement, the Department of Transportation said:

“There are no plans at this time to remove the crosswalk at North Nimitz Highway and Sumner Street, but we will consider additional methods to improve unsignalized crosswalks in the area when we begin the Nimitz Highway / Ala Moana Boulevard Resurfacing, Interstate Route H-1 to Atkinson Drive later this year.”

Inouye also urged drivers to remember to stay focused on the road when they’re behind the wheel.

Wong said that pedestrians also need to pay attention.

“Pedestrians need to be aware of their surroundings and not assume they can walk out into the street. Everybody has to take responsibility for themselves. Because ultimately the one that’s always going to pay the price is the pedestrian,” said Wong.

The accident marks the 10th traffic fatality so far this year compared to 13 at the same time last year.

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