LIHU‘E — A slate of bills aimed at increasing safety on local and state roads was ushered into law during a signing ceremony at the Hawai‘i Capitol in Honolulu.
Gov. Josh Green signed three bills at the ceremony on July 6, after he previously signed four related bills earlier. The seven bills cover a number of issues ranging from online driver’s license renewal to traffic fines.
“In just the first six months of 2023, we have already seen 43 traffic fatalities,” said Green in a statement. “This is unacceptable and should not be occurring. We need these numbers to go down so our communities will be safer and we can prevent losing more lives to preventable tragedies.”
He added, “The bills we have signed today strive to enhance not only road safety, but driver and passenger safety, pedestrian safety and public safety.”
The three bills signed during the ceremony follow:
• Senate Bill 1086 renames the State Highway Safety Council the State Highway Safety and Modernization Council. The bill also amends the composition and duties of the council;
• Senate Bill 1166 allows for the renewal of driver’s licenses online in addition to mail. The bill took effect immediately;
• House Bill 600 establishes the Safe Routes to School Advisory Committee, which is required to develop a comprehensive, statewide Safe Routes to School Plan. The new law also amends the duties of the Safe Routes to School Program, as well as addresses where funds are deposited and appropriated.
The four bills signed ahead of the ceremony follow:
• Senate Bill 497 prohibits certain oversized commercial vehicles from driving in the far left lane on roadways with three or more lanes for traffic moving in the same direction. The law, which is subject to certain exceptions, takes effect Jan. 1. 2024;
• House Bill 118 clarifies that each county may, by ordinance, designate certain sections of county highways as areas in which stopping, standing or parking vehicles is prohibited. The law also states that any federal or state agency authorizing a road closure shall supersede a county ordinance;
• House Bill 1104 repeals an exemption relating to the issuance of citations for violations relating to vehicle gross weight, axle and wheel loads in Section 291 of the Hawai‘i Revised Statutes;
• House Bill 1108 amends the law relating to vehicle weight violations by replacing the fine schedule and increasing the potential fines based on multitude and magnitude of vehicle weight violations.
State Sen. Chris Lee, chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation and Culture and the Arts, noted in a statement there needs to be a change in the mindset of the way roads are designed.
“If Hawai‘i is going to change the record of 117 fatalities and nearly 600 serious or paralyzing injuries on our streets that we experienced last year, then we have to change the way we design our roads, implementing best practices that successfully save lives elsewhere, by physically separating cars from pedestrians and people on bicycles and building safer crosswalks where they intersect,” he said.
Wyatt Haupt Jr., editor, can be reached at 808-245-0457 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: The Garden Island