Hawaiʻi partners promote safe driving practices through artwork

Posted on Mar 6, 2024 in Highways News, Main, News

“Drive with Aloha” murals educate youth and their communities on the dangers of impaired driving 

HONOLULU – The Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation (HDOT) is partnering with Keep It Flowing Media (KIF), Hawaii Partnership to Prevent Underage Drinking (HPPUD), the Coalition for a Drug-Free Hawaii, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Hawaii and local schools to encourage youth and community members to plan ahead and find a safe ride home. Six projects in schools across Oʻahu will feature colorful murals that share the message that impaired driving crashes are 100 percent preventable.   

HDOT funds the “Drive with Aloha” mural program through a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) grant. “Drive with Aloha” was founded by KIF’s Ken Nishimura.  

“According to the 2021 Hawaiʻi Youth Risk Behavior Surveys, 20.8 percent of middle schoolers and 40.3 percent of high schoolers admitted they have drunk alcohol, and 5 percent of middle schoolers and 21.2 percent of high schoolers have used marijuana,” Nishimura said. “Our outreach to the younger generation matters as it is informative and can play a critical role in the safety of themselves and others.” 

As part of each mural project, students and community members participate in a painting workshop, community painting day, a roadside rally and the unveiling and blessing of the mural – all while learning about the dangers of impaired driving or riding in the car with an impaired driver, and hearing stories from traffic safety advocates, community leaders, and families whose loved ones were killed by impaired drivers.  

One such family is Ed and Paula Werner, whose 19-year-old son Kaulana was killed by an impaired driver on April 24, 2016, right outside their home in Nānākuli. The Werners have been strong supporters of the “Drive with Aloha” program and advocates for educating the youth and creating safer communities. 

“This is a kakoū thing, with everyone coming together to mālama each other, one ʽohana,” Ed Werner said. “This program is reaching out and educating students in schools throughout the state of Hawaiʻi so they can share with their family and friends of the information gotten. It pertains to driving with aloha, educating on bullying and also the violence going on within many communities. “With this program, it has high standards of being one huge effort to save lives,” he said. 

Since October 2023, two murals have been completed – one at Nānākuli High and Intermediate School and the other at Farrington High School. A mural at Kalani High School started in February and is nearly complete. Murals will also be painted at Leilehua, Kailua and James B. Castle high schools.  

“Each year, we see roughly half of the drivers in fatal crashes testing positive for alcohol and or drugs. The most tragic point of that statistic is that they are not only hurting themselves. At HDOT we are trying everything we can to address impaired driving. ‘Drive with Aloha’ is an innovative and engaging way to show people the risks of impaired driving while also promoting positive decisions,” said Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation Director Ed Sniffen. “We’re thankful for partners like Keep It Flowing, HPPUD, MADD Hawaii, and community advocates like the Werners for their dedication to ensuring safer roads for future generations.”   

To learn more about the risks of impaired driving, visit https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving and https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drug-impaired-driving 

HDOT offers the following safe travel tips and urges Hawaiʻi’s roadway users to: 

  • Remember that it is never okay to drive while impaired. Even one alcoholic beverage can slow reaction times and impair judgement. 
  • Plan a safe way home before you start consuming intoxicants. Designate a sober driver, plan to use a rideshare service, call a taxi, or ask a family member or friend to give you a ride home safely. 
  • If you know someone who is about to drive while impaired, be a true friend and take their keys away. Help them make other arrangements to get them to their destination safely.  
  • Slow down and obey the speed limits. 
  • Always buckle up – every trip, day and night, year-round.

Community members that would like to participate are encouraged to contact Keep It Flowing via email at [email protected]  

To see the “Drive with Aloha” mural process in action, visit https://youtu.be/ypsW8J0l4xU