Honolulu police have issued more than 3,700 speeding and other citations in the first three weeks of a highly publicized crackdown on dangerous drivers, officials said yesterday.
The citations, which are on top of regular traffic enforcement efforts, are part of a campaign to cut down on speeding-related accidents and deaths, which are at their highest levels in years on O'ahu.
"We're trying everything," said Honolulu police Capt. Robert Green, who is supervising a task force announced Nov. 10. The efforts include laser speed monitoring and pace cars on highways at unannounced times and locations across the island, in addition to regular police patrols in all districts, Green said.
As of yesterday, the task force had issued 2,696 speeding citations and 463 warnings, said Maj. Susan Dowsett, who heads HPD's Traffic Investigation branch. Task force members also have issued 1,072 citations for other reasons and made 186 arrests, 54 of which were for drunken driving, Dowsett said.
Those numbers are in addition to speeding citations issued by other officers, which typically have averaged about 3,000 per month in recent years.
Police have not compiled statistics about where the task force citations were issued or the average speed of those cited, choosing instead to quickly check the citations and send them to the state's Traffic Violation Bureau or District Courts for enforcement, Dowsett said.
"Officers have been assigned islandwide, including all freeways, highways and other roads," she said. "On different days, they target different problem locations."
Patty Teruya, a Wai'anae resident who has been involved with HPD's annual Live and Let Live traffic awareness safety campaign for more than two decades, said the task force is having a dramatic effect on drivers along Farrington Highway in Leeward O'ahu.
"They're doing good, and they've been really visible," said Teruya, who has seen the task force members nabbing speeders at two dangerous places in the area, in front of Ko Olina Resort and near the Kahe Point power plant.
"I've seen them during the day and night, and I've seen people slowing down. Even when the police aren't there, people are going slower. The police are moving around, so people think, 'If they aren't here, they may be somewhere else,'" she said.
Traffic experts said it is probably too early to see a dramatic change in driver behavior, but they are hoping that the highly visible campaign will have a deterrent effect not only on those cited for speeding, but those who see the enforcement efforts as they drive on O'ahu roads.
"The best thing they can do is have the blue lights going," said William Clark, a former deputy police chief and now head of the neighborhood board in 'Aiea, where speeding drivers have been a source of many complaints.
"Nobody is stupid enough to go speeding when they see the lights 300 yards up the road."
Clark said police probably are concentrating the efforts in highly visible places, such as freeways and highways and major roads, such as Moanalua Road and Kamehameha Highway. They also could be setting up in major thoroughfares that run through residential neighborhoods, such as 'Aiea Heights Drive and Kaonohi Street in Pearlridge.
While police have not compiled statistics, Green said that officers on the task force have issued a number of citations to drivers going considerably faster than the speed limit.
"We've seen people doing 80 in a 55-mile zone," Green said. "Someone who was stopped for doing 70 told the officer he did it every day."
Police launched the speeding task force earlier this month following reports that traffic deaths this year on O'ahu are among the highest in the past two decades, with about half the deaths involving speeding.
As of yesterday, 87 people have died in traffic accidents on O'ahu, compared with 75 for all of last year and 56 the year before.