Laser Guns Monitor City Bus Driver's

Nov 14, 2006 11:45 PM
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Laser Guns Monitor City Bus Drivers

BY: Minna Sugimoto

(KHNL) - It isn't just Honolulu police officers who are using laser guns to clock drivers' speeds.

Whether you drive a compact car or a city bus, you need to obey speed limit signs. City bus drivers are being watched by two groups of people -- Honolulu police, who recently announced a crackdown on speeding, and another team.

Ralph Nishimura is armed with a laser gun on busy Kamehameha Highway near Middle Street. The speed limit here is 35 miles per hour.

"We are taking a proactive approach in safety awareness," Nishimura said.

Nishimura and his partner, Robert Nagaoka, are not police officers. They're supervisors at Oahu Transit Services, better known as The Bus.

"We try to do this at least twice a week in different strategic locations," Nishimura said.

The team keeps a watchful eye on city bus drivers. Using the same equipment the Honolulu Police Department uses, O.T.S. says it's been monitoring drivers' speeds for awhile now.

"We've been doing this for many, many years," Ralph Faufata, Oahu Transit Services, said. "Basically, we've had our radar gun before. This is a laser gun, the newer type."

One bus was traveling slightly faster than the limit, clocked at 37 in the 35-mile-an-hour zone. O.T.S. says a speeding bus driver faces a range of possible penalties.

"The Bus company takes it very seriously. They will have to go in and talk to one of the superintendents," Faufata said. "Counseling or different types of appropriate discipline. They maybe have to be re-trained or, at times, even suspended."

With traffic deaths on Oahu soaring, H.P.D. last week formed a speed enforcement task force.

Nishimura and Nagaoka say they're doing their part to make Oahu's roads safer.

"We're just giving them the awareness to be more conscientious of their safety, awareness on their driving, their speed," Nishimura said.

O.T.S. could not provide any figures on how many bus drivers are caught speeding each year. But the company believes its efforts have helped slow drivers down, particularly in residential areas, and on Pali and Farrington Highways.