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Traffic fatalities and serious injuries are preventable

Viewpoint

A crash reported last weekend claimed the life of a 17-year-old teen, the fifth traffic-related fatality so far this year. Speed and alcohol may have been factors, but we do know two things for sure — that news like this affects everyone in the community, and that crashes like this are preventable.

Every year between 2014-2018, an average of 18 people on Maui lost their lives in traffic crashes and over 100 bicyclists and pedestrians were injured in crashes. Our family and friends experience hardship and pain, and we believe no one should have to lose a loved one this way. Vision Zero is based on the idea that fatal and serious injury crashes are preventable with proper engineering, education and enforcement.

After a year of outreach, research and data gathering, the Maui Metropolitan Planning Organization approved a Vision Zero Maui Action Plan in March, which outlined specific actions:

• Eliminate impaired driving.

• Create safe speeds.

• Eliminate distracted driving.

• Create a safety culture.

• Build safe streets for everyone.

• Institutionalize Vision Zero.

• Improve data to support decisions.

A resolution to adopt the Vision Zero Maui Action Plan will be considered in the Maui County Council Infrastructure and Transportation Committee at 9 a.m. Monday. The presentation will outline the efforts and findings of the Vision Zero Maui Advisory Group, which includes police, engineers, planners, health professionals and community advocates.

We invite you to submit testimony in support of the Vision Zero Maui Action Plan to encourage our legislators to create laws and programs that promote a safety-focused culture in our community.

Understanding the causes of crashes is an important step to prevent them. Designing roadways that promote safe behaviors for all road users is a big component of Vision Zero. Because we use the roads, we all have a shared responsibility to look after one another’s safety.

One action that will have an instant impact on reducing traffic crashes is to stop drinking and driving.

Our partners at the Maui Police Department confirm a drop of reported crashes immediately after a collective effort from advocates, which may include press appearances, social media reminders and police presence on our roads.

Now that safe get-togethers are back, the DUI Task Force may have more frequent sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols. Make a plan — designate a driver, utilize ride sharing services or call a friend. If your intoxicated loved one tries to get behind the wheel, take the keys and offer help.

Another simple way we can promote the principles of Vision Zero and promote a safety culture is to use the term “crash” instead of “accident” when reporting about unfortunate collisions on our roads. Accidents suggest there was nothing that could have been done to prevent the crash. With the Vision Zero Maui initiative, the only acceptable number of traffic fatalities and serious injuries is zero.

You can read the full Action Plan on mauimpo.org/visionzeromaui. Share your stories and support by submitting testimony to IT.committee@mauicounty.us.

* Lauren Armstrong is the executive director of Maui Metropolitan Planning Organization, which exists to hear the voice of the people and ensure that their feedback is part of the transportation planning process. Public participation is one of the most important responsibilities of the Maui MPO.

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