You may think choosing to cross at an official crosswalk will keep you safe from an accident on Hawaii’s busy roadways, but we have one of the worst records in the nation for pedestrian accidents and fatalities. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Hawaii saw 26 pedestrian accidents that resulted in fatalities in 2012 alone; the state is also first in the nation for pedestrian fatalities for individuals over the age of 65.
We’ve chronicled the dangers pedestrians face on Hawaii’s roadways before, but crosswalks are commonly seen as safer than simply stepping into the road. This misconception can lead to an accident with significant injuries or even death for the pedestrian. Jaywalking, or crossing the road outside of a crosswalk is actually a crime in Hawaii; you could be ticketed and fined $130 if you jaywalk on one of the state’s streets.
What is Jaywalking?
According to the Honolulu Police Department, if you ignore a crosswalk and simply step into the street and cross wherever you’d like, you are jaywalking and subject to a fine. You risk more than a ticket when you ignore a crosswalk; hundreds of pedestrians are hurt or even killed in the state’s streets each year. You’re not just jaywalking if you avoid the designated crosswalk; you may also be charged if you ignore the red “Don’t Walk” sign or cross a road anywhere but at the corner. Television station Khon2 recently completed a report on the police department’s increased focus on ticketing both pedestrians and drivers who violate crosswalk laws and increase the risk of an accident.
Hawaii crosswalk laws are deliberately strict to increase awareness and protect pedestrians for accidents, but personal vigilance and responsibility on the part of both walkers and drivers is a must if we are to lower the state’s accident rates. Understanding Hawaii’s crosswalk laws and how crosswalks can help reduce accidents allows you to protect yourself and your family from harm.
Hawaii Crosswalk Rules
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, both pedestrians and drivers need to obey crosswalk rules to ensure safety for all. Current crosswalk rules in Hawaii include:
- Don’t cross outside of the designated area or step into the path of an oncoming vehicle, even if you are within the crosswalk zone.
- Yield to vehicles if you are in the road outside of the crosswalk, or if you are crossing at an intersection without a designated crossing area.
- Only cross an intersection diagonally if the light or traffic control device or monitor specifically indicate you should do so.
- Always give pedestrians the right of way in crosswalks.
- Be prepared to stop at all crosswalks, even if the pedestrian has not yet stepped into the street or is on the opposite side of the road.
- Do not proceed until all people in the crosswalk have passed your vehicle and moved out of the street.
Staying Safe in a Crosswalk
While the crosswalk is often seen as a safe zone; but distracted drivers and those under the influence of alcohol or drugs can make these designated crossing zones far less safe then they appear to be. For pedestrians, being aware of the traffic, looking both ways before crossing, even in the crosswalk and following all signs could help you stay safe on Hawaii’s roadways. For drivers, increased awareness of crosswalks and pedestrians can help prevent a tragedy; avoiding distractions, including texting, eating and even other passengers is a must.
What to do if you have been injured in a crosswalk accident:
Despite following the law and using the crosswalk, hundreds of pedestrians are injured every year in the state. If you are injured by a car while using the crosswalk or while crossing the street, the following actions can help you protect your rights:
Get medical treatment: Even if you don’t have visible injuries or need an ambulance, you should see a doctor. Some injuries are not immediately apparent, particularly those to your head, brain and neck, and delaying treatment could cause further damage.
Call the police: You’ll need a police report to fully document the accident and to show where you and the vehicle were when you were struck.
Take photos: Take pictures of the scene, the street and the car and driver who hit you. Photos of the crosswalk where you were injured and anything that helps document the scene will help your car accident attorney help you later.
Gather witnesses: Anyone who saw you get hit or witnessed the accident itself or the car before or after it hit you is a potential witness; record their name and contact information so that you can reach out to them later if needed.
Be wary of the insurance company: If the driver’s insurance company tries to offer you a settlement quickly, you may end up incurring extra costs or injuries. Don’t accept a fast settlement without checking with an attorney first. A pedestrian injury can have far reaching implications for your health and ability to work; a fast settlement may not be in y our best interest
If you’ve been injured by a vehicle or while using one of Hawaii’s many crosswalks, an attorney familiar with local crosswalk laws and accidents can help you protect your rights. Contact us for help if you’ve been in an accident; we’re here to help you through this difficult time and make sure you are treated fairly by the insurance company.