In a recent well-publicized study of the best and worst states for driving, WalletHub said that Hawaii has nailed it and is dead last. They called it the “Worst State.” But is it true that Hawaii is really the worst? If you’ve driven in Hawaii recently, here’s your chance to see what it’s all about and if you choose, vent about issues driving here.
Among the problems cited by Wallet Hub were the average gas prices, still hovering around $5/gallon in the islands, tragic congestion, and road quality, among other things. What wasn’t covered in the survey were things like the percentage of confrontational drivers you’ll meet. Hawaii is ranked 39/50 as having among the nicest drivers by Forbes. How many times have you been able to merge into traffic, not get honked at, or are given a shaka sign of aloha? It happens here all the time.
Sure, gas prices are higher in Hawaii for a variety of reasons. Also, given the distance and expenses associated with selling anything in Hawaii, the islands will typically have the highest gas prices. At the other end of that scale sits Texas, where gas can be had for about one-half the price found in Hawaii.
What Wallethub missed.
If you compare the quality of driving in Hawaii and most other places, we’d say that Hawaii ranks more favorably than WalletHub suggested. If you want to take it to an extreme and perhaps even include the scenery, that moves Hawaii to the very top.
Then there are different studies. And, on the good side, Hawaii scored well in auto safety, which looked at accidents, tickets, seatbelts, and car theft. There Hawaii came in #6 in the nation. That study from Bankrate also showed different results than WalletHub, ranking Hawaii 12 out of the 50 states in terms of the best states for drivers. It also listed Hawaii as #3 in the safest driving category.
We have our gripes about Hawaii driving.
Some of the roads in Hawaii are just dismal, with upkeep virtually nonexistent. Think of the road to Kokee State Park on Kauai, for example. It is a complete embarrassment and is dangerous and unacceptable, presenting the obvious question of why it doesn’t get fixed.
Traffic isn’t good in Hawaii, either. Whether in Honolulu rush hour, which is up there among the worst, or Maui and, for example, the drive between Kahului and Kaanapali. Or on Kauai, the drive through the it-takes-forever Kapaa corridor.
Hawaii driving hints for visitors.
The resurgence of travel to Hawaii brought incredible traffic onto our roads, and the rate of serious accidents went up, according to the State DOT. This calls for patience and smart thinking. It’s always the right time to take extra care when driving on your Hawaii vacation. And now that’s even more true than ever.
Pay attention and respect all road rules, especially if you are driving in Hawaii for the first time. Be extra cautious at intersections. Avoid passing because you may not always see oncoming traffic on our curvy, two-lane roads paired with easily distracting roadway conditions. If someone does decide to pass you, be mindful of their actions and look for potential issues. This ties into number one below. Please slow down, enjoy your vacation, and get home safe so you can return again.
- Slow down, go with the flow, stay safe, and keep your vacation money in your pocket. Speeding is a significant problem and one of 3 major factors associated with accidents in Hawaii. If it helps you to keep speed in check, know the speed limit, and remember that speed detection by police is widespread, and tickets for violations of traffic laws are frequent and expensive. Visitors have commented to us about the huge fines they’ve incurred.
- You may be tired of hearing this, but don’t make U-Turns on Hawaii highways, become distracted by the beauty or stop suddenly for photo opportunities. On a personal note, visitors are still regularly making unsafe U-Turns. When a visitor car pulls off to the right, we anticipate that a sudden U-Turn may be coming. Often it is.
- Forget the horn. We use car horns to say hello to people and not to complain. Let people in; it’s our way, and we love it.
- Rain makes for limited visibility, ground fog, and slippery roads. Hydroplaning here’s a big problem, and fast rains can come from nowhere. With our weather far more unpredictable than on the mainland, you sometimes just need to pull over to be safe in major downpours.
- Watch for Hawaii weather, flood advisories, and potholes. NOAA weather is a good place to start for forecasts and advisories. Driving during flooding in Hawaii is something you don’t want to experience. Potholes in Hawaii can be virtually invisible and serious, and they can cause significant damage to your car. Be mindful.
- Avoid rush-hour traffic in Honolulu and on the neighbor islands between 6:00 AM to 8:30 AM and 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM. It’s always “mo betta” to spend your time sitting on the beach than in traffic.
- Plan your route in advance. Remember that driving between points on our island roads takes longer. And check Maps before starting. We can’t tell you how often we didn’t arrive at our destination as planned due to highway closures due to an accident or roadwork.
- Crossing the highway is dangerous if you’re not at a crosswalk. Also, motorists use caution and be watchful of pedestrians. Look ahead one city block, or a quarter-mile on rural roads, for potential problems.
- Road shoulders in Hawaii are often soft and deep and sometimes non-existent; avoid them whenever possible. That’s even more so during inclement weather. Avoid getting towed. You can’t imagine how many times we see visitors getting stuck. Jeff has also had to be towed away so that it can happen to anyone.
- Learn the meaning of “makai” (towards the ocean) and “mauka” (towards the mountain) when receiving directions. We often use landmarks and mileposts rather than street names or highway numbers to give directions between points. Especially outside Honolulu.
Hawaii Department of Transportation Dep. Director Ed Sniffen said he wants to “start talking about how we can save people’s lives by doing something as easy as following the law… Regarding speed; he added that “the faster the vehicle involved in a collision is traveling, the less likely it is that the person hit will survive. Nine out of 10 people hit by a car at 20 MPH will live — double the speed to 40 MPH, and only 1 out of 10 will survive.”
While visitors and rental cars are just one cause of problems driving in the Hawaiian Islands, there’s no doubt they too play a significant role. Buckle up and never text while driving are basic but true messages. But just as critical is to realize that while our quaint roads may seem country-like to those visiting from big cities, they can quickly turn deadly, as we’ve witnessed personally entirely too often.