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Drive with aloha

By Staff | May 31, 2012

Congratulations and a heartfelt mahalo go out to all those who contributed to the organization and promotion of Project Graduation – the alcohol-, drug- and tobacco-free, all-night party for high school graduates here on the Valley Isle.

As a result of the conscientious effort of parents, school administration, community leaders and businesses to create a safe haven for our children as they celebrate this momentous occasion of their lives, another graduation celebration season has gone by without a traffic tragedy.

On the dark side of this situation, however, is deaths in traffic accidents on Maui have nearly tripled, spiking to 13 in the current year, compared to five for the same time frame in 2011 as reported by Sgt. Jamie Becraft of the Maui Police Department’s Traffic Division.

As sad as the latter statistics are, it is even more depressing to realize that, with a little care, all or most of these fatalities could have been prevented.

The lethal crashes involved all types of vehicles, including cars, motorcycles and mopeds, and all of the tragic accidents reportedly involved careless or speeding driving.

The five teenagers who perished in the Upcountry crash were going home from an all-night party when the driver of the car they were traveling in apparently fell asleep at the wheel and crashed head-on with a truck headed in the opposite direction.

The lead rider in the motorcycle tragedy that killed two of the group – including Lahaina resident Marlene Debnam – on North Kihei Road reportedly crossed over the line on a curve and into oncoming traffic to trigger the collisions.

And, at the intersection of Honoapiilani Highway and Wahikuli Road, there have been two accidents involving automobiles making right-hand turns and colliding with moped riders in the bike lane going north toward Kaanapali, killing one of them.

Two weeks ago at this same intersection, I personally watched a young man on a moped that was built to look like a racing cycle come up behind me in the right-hand lane of northbound traffic, move to the center lane, pass me, reenter the right lane in front of me, then move into the bike lane to pass several cars. The rider almost collided with a car turning right to proceed mauka on Wahikuli Road, then sped up to move back into the right-hand lane.

Official government traffic studies have deducted that the most time you can save by speeding and passing cars on this island is five to ten minutes. Is it really worth it to risk lives to arrive that much earlier?

We can all help prevent traffic accidents by driving a little slower and with a little more care. Please, everybody, drive with aloha.