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News Release

March 8, 2012

PEDESTRIAN ACCIDENTS AT STATE'S LARGEST ELEMENTARY SCHOOL PROMPT SAFETY RALLY

With more than 1,200 students, August Ahrens is the state's largest elementary school, and has also been the site of several dangerous traffic accidents involving speed and pedestrians in this congested rush hour area.

The pedestrian crosswalk in front of August Ahrens Elementary School in Waipahu has had three pedestrian accidents already this school year, two involved students and one a parent. Just last week an elderly woman was also fatally injured crossing Waipahu Street further down from August Ahrens in front of nearby Waipahu Elementary School. This was the 14th traffic fatality so far this year and the 4th pedestrian fatality.

That's why August Ahrens held a Hot Spots traffic safety rally this morning in front of the school on Mahoe and Waipahu Streets. More than 75 students, HPD Officers, teachers, Farmers Insurance Hawaii employees and community members waved signs to send a serious message to drivers: slow down for students and pedestrians crossing streets.

The event was part of the Farmers Hawaii Hot Spots program, now celebrating its 10th anniversary of raising awareness for traffic and pedestrian safety statewide.

According to Wenli Lin, Director of Marketing for Farmers Insurance Hawaii, parents and drivers need to be aware of speed limits and laws in school zones. "Due to the large number of students at the school, traffic is extremely congested during the morning rush hour," Lin said. "Key traffic issues in the area include parking in no parking zones, speeding, and pedestrian crossing. Pedestrians including students need to look both ways for vehicles before crossing the street and remember to always use the crosswalk," she said.

Lin added that the fine for speeding in school zones is $297, and not yielding to pedestrians and jaywalking fines are $130 each. The speed limit in school zones is 25 miles per hour.

Since August Ahrens has had several pedestrian accidents recently, Farmers Hawaii is working very closely with the school to help instill safe pedestrian habits with all the students. Students will be participating in Farmers Hawaii's custom-made online traffic safety video game, Adventures in Traffic Safety. The Web-based safety curriculum includes modules for crossing streets safely, correct seat belt usage, bicycle safety, knowing street signs and signals, obeying posted speed limits and avoiding driving distractions. Adventures in Traffic Safety was created to educate children at a young age about traffic safety to form good pedestrian and eventually good driving habits and practices. Elementary schools statewide can participate in Adventures in Traffic Safety by going to www.farmershotspots.com. Schools that reach 75% participation will receive a $500 monetary donation from Farmers Hawaii.

"Keeping our keiki safe, especially crossing busy streets and intersections going to and from school and after-school activities, is a community-wide priority," said Lin. "By reinforcing safety messages in a fun way, we can help to make our streets safer statewide."

The Farmers Insurance Hot Spots program was started in 2002 in response to increased accidents and fatalities due to speeding. Schools or concerned community members interested in holding a Hot Spots event in their neighborhood should contact Farmers Insurance Hawaii at 808-544-3988.

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