Last year was difficult for people living in Hawaii and across the country, due in large part to the sharp economic downturn and lockdowns that interrupted life and livelihoods. Even though there weren’t as many cars on the road, law enforcement noticed a sharp rise in risky driving behaviors that were contributing to deadly accidents.
The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) reported that although there were not as many traffic fatalities as in 2019, when considering that there were far fewer vehicles on the road, the numbers are significant. Nearly half of fatalities in 2020 were due to speeding, and a majority of these accidents occurred on Oahu.
What are the current trends?
Although traffic volumes are up to near normal levels in large parts of the country, some drivers are still acting as if they are travelling on empty roads. In the first six months of 2021, there has been a 16% rise in traffic deaths over 2020, and a 17% spike over 2019. When factoring in total vehicle miles travelled (VMT), today’s rate has gone up 24% so far compared to two years ago.
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the estimated injuries from car accidents stands at 2,445,000 so far, and property damage is estimated at $241.9 billion. The top factors that are contributing to traffic deaths are impaired driving, speeding and distracted driving.
What is contributory negligence?
When distracted, impaired, or reckless driving is the cause of a car accident, it is possible for the injured party to purse a negligence claim. In such a civil action, the plaintiff must prove that:
- the defendant had a duty of care to other drivers on the road
- the defendant breached that duty by acting negligently
- the breach of this duty was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries
Hawaii follows the 51% rule, in which any actions on the part of the injured party that may have contributed to the accident do not bar them from pursuing a claim, as long as their share of responsibility is less than the other party’s. Based on the arguments and the evidence presented at trial, it is the judge who decides what share of fault each party has for causing the accident. The plaintiff may recover damages minus any percentage they contributed to the accident.