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Stop Tragic and Needless Cyclist Deaths on Maui

Support keeping the distracted driving law strong.

May 1, 2014
Chad Taniguchi - Hawai‘i Bicycling League Executive Director , Maui Weekly

The Hawai'i Bicycling League extends our condolences to the family of Karl Hagen, who was hit from behind and killed on Pi'ilani Highway in Kihei on April 12. He was hit while cycling in a bike lane, a separated space for bicyclists that should be safe from motorists.

The Hawai'i Bicycling League calls for the application of the state's Vulnerable User Law (see below) in this case. When a motorist breaks the law and kills or seriously injures a pedestrian, bicyclist, wheelchair user, road worker, police officer, or other person on the street (who is following the law), the lawbreaking motorist is subject to more severe punishment, such as elevating a misdemeanor to a felony.

The purpose of the Vulnerable User Law is to remind all motorists to exercise extra care whenever they are driving near vulnerable users. Our human bodies are no match for a vehicle weighing 20 to 50 times more than us, traveling at a speed that increases the force of impact into a deadly blow.

While motorists need to be vigilant, vulnerable users must also follow the law, as Karl was doing, and watch out for hazards on the road, including cars and trucks. Bicyclists also have a duty to treat pedestrians with extra care.

Advocating for safety on Hawai'i's roads is a tradition that goes back to King Kamehameha, and very likely existed before him. Public roads and trails are for everyone to use and we have a mutual obligation to each other to use roads safely. Kamehameha proclaimed the Law of the Splintered Paddle (Mamalahoe Kanawai) in 1797, which stands for the principle that everyone has the right to be safe on Hawai'i's roads. "E hele a moe i ke ala" (www.hawaii.edu/uhelp/files/LawOfTheSplinteredPaddle.pdf).

This was made part of the Hawai'i State Constitution in 1978.

The Hawai'i Bicycling League is a 39-year-old Hawaii 501(c)3 nonprofit with a mission is to enable more people to ride bicycles for health, recreation and transportation through advocacy, education and events. Visit www.hbl.org to see the range of education, advocacy, and events to promote safe and enjoyable cycling. Bicycling is fun, healthy, environmentally friendly and saves money. The Hawai'i Bicycling League teaches a workshop called Walk Bike Drive (www.hbl.org/walkbikedrive), which teaches motorists how to be careful and safe around bicyclists and pedestrians.

There are many ways drivers can cause crashes--by being impaired (drugs, alcohol, sleepy), by being distracted (cell phones, talking, eating, reading, applying makeup while driving), by speeding and rushing, and by being inattentive, among many others. One positive step, however, was the adoption in 2013 of a law making it illegal to hold a cell phone while driving. This law has resulted in many citations, which strongly remind drivers that distracted driving is illegal and dangerous!

The Hawai'i Bicycling League, police and prosecutors, and many concerned people are fighting to keep strong Hawai'i's "no use of cell phone while driving" law (HRS 291C-137) by retaining the principle that holding a cell phone while driving a car must be banned. Cell phone use should only occur when a driver is off the roadway with the car motor off. Proposed amendments threaten to make the law unenforceable. See testimonies on SB2729 at www.capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=SB&billnumber=2729, and HB1509 at www.capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=HB&billnumber=1509&year=2014.

Tell Rep. Ryan Yamane and Sen. Kalani English that you want the "No Cell phone Law" kept strong!

Please support keeping the law strong to eliminate distracted driving, which is dangerous and deadly.

Please tell the House & Senate Transportation Committee Chairs Yamane (repyamane@capitol.hawaii.gov, (808) 586-6150 and English (senenglish@capitol.hawaii.gov, (808) 587-7225) that you want to keep the current law as is to prevent future roadway deaths from cell phone use.

 
 
 

 

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