Crosswalk Law Puts Brakes on Last Minute Pedestrians

July 1, 2019, 1:17 PM HST · Updated July 1, 1:41 PM
Wendy Osher · 12 Comments
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By Wendy Osher

Pedestrians across the state may be interested to know of revisions that go into effect today on a crosswalk law.  If a signal is equipped with a countdown timer, it is illegal for a pedestrian to start crossing the road in the direction of the signal if the countdown has already begun.  The clarification on the old law goes into effect today.

Under Act 133, if the pedestrian is already in the crosswalk when the flashing countdown begins, they can continue their transit across the crosswalk to a sidewalk or safety island before the countdown timer ends.

Prior to this update on countdown timers, the law referred only to the “Upraised Palm” Don’t Walk signal, leaving some confused about the effect of the countdown.

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“As one of the primary sponsors of the bill, I am proud that we have maintained our focus on pedestrian safety and helped make our crosswalks that much safer,” said Senator Senator J. Kalani English (Dist. 7: Hāna, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka‘i, Lāna‘i, Kaho‘olawe). “Of course, there is more to be done, and I am confident we will continue to make headway in protecting pedestrians and otherwise improving our traffic laws.”

The fine for a violation is $130, but it is not expected to be the focus of traffic enforcement efforts, according to police.

Lt. William Hankins, Commander of the Maui Police Department’s Traffic Section said, “It’s something we can enforce.  We have other priorities, but if someone is blatantly disregarding the law,” he said, officers have the ability to issue a citation.

According to Lt. Hankins, it’s hard to tell if there will be an impact on traffic statistics. “It’s yet to be seen…  Common sense comes into play for a lot of it.  If you’re in the middle of an intersection, you’re obviously not going to turn around and go back.”

“To be honest, it’s a safety measure put into place–something people already know about the ‘big red hand.’  When the red hand is up, that’s telling people not to cross.  That’s already been on the books for years.  This is just a clarification.  Think of it as a red light for pedestrians.  Don’t go,” he said.

The countdown timers are in place at many of the larger intersections around the island including major crosswalks like Piʻikea/South Kīhei Road, and the entrance of the Kʻahumanu Shopping Center in Kahului.

According to Senate Bill 693, countdown timers show pedestrians how many seconds are left to cross the street before the pedestrian signal changes from a flashing “Don’t Walk” to a steady “Don’t Walk” or upraised palm indication.

The following is a guideline of what a pedestrian should and should not do when they observe different indicators: (as outlined in SB693)

  • Walk or Walking Person:  Pedestrians may proceed across the roadway in the direction of the signal and shall be given the right-of-way by vehicles;
  • Don’t Walk or Upraised Palm:  No pedestrian shall start to cross the roadway in the direction of such signal, whether flashing or steady.  A pedestrian who has partially completed their crossing on the Walk or Walking Person signal shall complete the crossing to a sidewalk or safety island while the Don’t Walk or Upraised Palm signal is showing; and
  • Countdown timer:  If the pedestrian-control signal is equipped with a countdown timer, no pedestrian shall start to cross the roadway in the direction of such signal once the countdown begins.  Any pedestrian who has partially completed their crossing when the countdown begins shall complete the crossing to a sidewalk or safety island before the countdown timer ends.

    Photo: by Wendy Osher.

At Least 5 of Maui’s Traffic Fatalities so Far this Year Involved Pedestrians:

So far this year, there have been 11 traffic fatalities on Maui County roadways.  At least five of the incidents involved pedestrians.  Below is a list of all fatalities reported so far this year in Maui County:

  • June 23, 2019: Maui Teen Dies in Kūihelani Crash on Maui (Hannah Brown, 19, of Wailuku)
  • June 17, 2019: Deadly Hāli‘imaile Crash Claims Life of Texas Woman (Teresa Pham, 39, of Spring Texas)
  • May 20, 2019: Deadly Honoapi‘ilani Accident Claims Life of Lahaina Man (Alvarez Barbosa, 69)
  • April 28, 2019: 21-Year-Old Dies in Wailea Motorcycle Crash (Cameron Kosman, 21, of Wailuku)
  • March 4, 2019: Driver Sought in Fatal Hit-And-Run Pedestrian Crash in Wailea, Maui (James Mallobox, 41)
  • March 2, 2019:  Pedestrian Dies After Being Struck by 2 Vehicles (female pedestrian was pronounced dead at the scene)
  • Feb. 9, 2019: 71-Year-old Pedestrian Dies, Struck by Vehicle in Makawao (A 71-year-old male pedestrian died)
  • Feb. 9, 2019: Pukalani Man Succumbs to Injuries in Kīhei Pedestrian Accident (Brandon M. Wilson, 22, of Pukalani)
  • Jan. 7, 2019: A 55-year-old woman was struck by a car while walking across Puʻunēnē Avenue within a marked crosswalk on Jan. 7. (Subsequent reports indicate the woman later died of injuries sustained in the crash).
  • Jan. 19, 2019: Pukalani Man Dies in Traffic Accident on Pi‘ilani Hwy, Maui (Jordan Lawrence, 35, of Pukalani)
  • Jan. 1, 2019: Kula Man Dies in New Year Accident on Pūlehu Road (Mau Loa Pacheco, 20, of Kula)
Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served nearly 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.

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