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Project Graduation is working

By Staff | Jun 9, 2016

This one is about the good, the bad and the ugly of traffic safety here on Maui.

I’ll start with the bad and the ugly, so we can move on with a positive finish.

Recently, I was driving along Honoapiilani Highway just north of Lahaina Cannery Mall, and I noticed a young man riding a moped going about 30 miles an hour in the bike path to my right.

I was shocked to see the guy reach over with his left hand to steer and throttle his moped, reach with his right hand to get his vibrating phone from his butt pocket, and then begin to TEXT a message – all the while maintaining his same speed.

Mind you, this was just before we reached the intersection of Wahikuli Road and the highway, where numerous critical car and moped accidents have occurred over the last few years. C’mon, man!

A couple of days later, while driving along that same stretch of the highway, I had to slow down behind a SUV in the right lane. There was little traffic, so I moved over and passed the SUV.

I looked over to see a young lady TEXTING and paying little attention to the road ahead. C’mon, girl!

On the bright side, it looks like we’ve made it through another high school graduation season here on Maui without a single traffic incident involving intoxicated teenagers. This wonderful non-statistic can be directly correlated to the smoke-, alcohol-, substance- and cell phone-free Project Graduation program initiated by Lorene Akiona and former Maui Police Department Officer Mike Casicas back in 1995.

Stop and think about that for a moment. For 21 years now, Maui County has had zero traffic fatalities involving graduating teenagers partying on the roadways.

Following Lahainaluna High School’s cutting-edge Project Graduation strategy, all of Maui County’s high schools developed similar events for their graduates – and thus, the golden goose egg of teenage traffic accidents. Further, high schools all across the state have initiated similar programs to save teenagers’ lives.

So, our heartfelt mahalo goes out to Lorene and Mike for taking the initiative to create a safe environment for the kids, and to this year’s Lahainaluna Project Graduation coordinators, Jodi Easler and Joanna Stockham, for the care and effort you and your staff put in to keeping our keiki safe. Thank you!