Road Rage In Hawaii Gets Heated

What’s Happening With Hawaii Drivers You Should Know About

We have all talked about the Aloha missing between Hawaii residents and visitors, but seldom about driver courtesy declining even between those who live here. Two surveys were conducted in 2023 regarding this and driver attitudes.

The first was a national survey from Forbes about confrontational drivers that ranked states from worst to best. The second survey was conducted by First Insurance Company of Hawaii and looked at driver friendliness.

Forbes Magazine ranked Hawaii in 36th place of states with the most confrontational drivers. According to the survey, 9% of drivers exited their vehicles to yell or fight. And 8.5% of drivers experience road rage frequently. That was pretty good news.

But, in a more recent survey from First Insurance Company of Hawaii, of the 435 drivers polled, 68% said driver courtesy in Hawaii has declined in the past five years.

The top 5 complaints were drivers who signaled late or not at all, those who weaved in and out of traffic, tailgaters, drivers who don’t allow others to merge, and finally, those talking on a cell phone while driving.

What was interesting to note is that 33% of survey participants in Hawaii have seen drivers get out of their cars to confront others. That is a much higher percentage than the Forbes survey indicated.

From our non-scientific observation, we do see fewer people waving or giving the shaka sign to other drivers. And while we have never seen drivers confront others outside their vehicles, we have heard cars honk more than in the past. A light horn is a sign of Aloha, but a blaring horn is not. And that has been a rarity in Hawaii, until recently.

Some common driver courtesies Hawaii drivers are forgetting:

  1. Slow down and don’t move so fast. You’re on island time. It takes longer to move between points A or B. Hawaii drivers may want to check Google Maps before going out to plan better for possible delays without stress.
  2. On hills with narrow roads, the driver going down has the right of way over the driver going up. Sometimes, you need to move over and let the downhill driver pass you. (This is no longer in the Hawaii Driver Handbook and others have advised that it is the uphill driver that has the right of way).
  3. Making eye contact is a good thing to acknowledge drivers courteous to you.
  4. Consider whether the horn is really necessary. Can you let it go easily? Sometimes you can’t, however. Yesterday, we saw someone who was driving poorly. They suddennly pulled out in front of another car on the highway and almost cause an accident.
  5. Pedestrians have the right of way. Watch for them. We hate to report that cars in the Costco parking lot don’t always yield to pedestrians.
  6. Holding cell phones and driving are not a good fit. If you must talk or text, pull over to the side of the road or just wait until there is a good time to do so. If you need to talk, then consider a headset or car phone.

Our Driving in Hawaii Post Offers More Tips.

Hawaii was also ranked the worst state for driving by Wallethub earlier this year. That was based on gas prices, traffic congestion, and road quality. Don’t get us started on road quality here in Hawaii. It’s ridiculous. But then Bankrate listed Hawaii as the third safest state for drivers.

With all of these surveys out this year alone, what is your feeling about driving in Hawaii in terms of what you find easy and what is challenging? Are drivers courteous?

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26 thoughts on “What’s Happening With Hawaii Drivers You Should Know About”

  1. Moved to Maui in 2022. I’ve never driven in a place where more people refuse to use turn signals. It’s mind blowing. I’d say less than 20% use turn signals here as they should.

  2. Hawaii resident who defiantly feels the increase in hostility on the roads. People are now driving huge vehicles that monopolize parking,create blind spots and the drivers seem to think they can be aggressive because they are in these tank sized vehicles,; unfit for the small roads ,especially Kauai. It’s very rare that these drivers stop,slow down or yield to pedestrians.

  3. Over the many years we have been coming to the BI, one thing we have observed that happens on a regular basis is passing in a no passing zone. There is a reason for those double yellow stripes, but nearly every time we are there we hear on the news about a fatal head-on collision because someone was passing when they shouldn’t have been. Very sad and so dangerous. As far as the Costco parking lot…those are pedestrian nightmares everywhere, not just in Hawaii.

  4. What the problem is all the mainlanders moving here and bringing their mainland ways and the younger spoiled generations (X & Z) that think they are entitled.

    1. 25 years in Hawaii, working mostly in hospitality, and dealing with many people “from the mainland,” and “tourists.”

      Hint: They are here because they choose to be here, not because they have TO be here. The overwhelming majority act respectful and appreciative. Really.

      That’s WHY I thoroughly enjoyed working at places like Ken’s House of Pancakes & the Hilton.

      Locals? Most are decent enough. But way too many act like they don’t appreciate what they have here.

      At KHOP one night while clocking in, a “local” kid (“born and raised” here) says, “I can’t wait to get off this rock.”

    2. To the contrary. My encounters have been with natives often in business trucks. By example a truck with a university emblem on the side refused to let us merge. Zero aloha.

  5. I visted theislands since the 70’s and whooa, it has increased. The more people, the numbers add up to negativity. thats the way the world works…unfortunately…..and fortunately I have been able to experience the islands as they were meant to me in the past….calm, minimum people, minimum traffic. It’s been 5 years since last visit, so will be in for a huge surprise, but and not a pleasant one. I fear so much that this will be my last trip as the dynamics are just too sad on the sad end. I had a very close friend die unexpectedly a couple days ago and I said, to myself, atleast he won’t see this horrible mean world.

  6. “What was interesting to note is that 33% of survey participants in Hawaii have seen drivers get out of their cars to confront others. That is a much higher percentage than the Forbes survey indicated.”

    Maybe the 33% are all watching the same 7-8%?

    Idea: Maybe the virtue signal people with those “In This House …” signs could practice some “In this car, we use the turn signal” virtue?

    1. On Judge Judy people would say they got out of their cars to confront the other driver. Judge Judy couldn’t understand why.

  7. The one thing that I Never do on any of the Islands is just pull out when the light turns green for me. By far, in my over 30 years of visiting in Hawaii, the worst thing is the red light runners whether on 2 or 4 wheels and that system has probably saved my life on more occasions than I can remember with Maui being the absolute worst.

  8. This is strictly anecdotal, but I know what I see.

    The overwhelming majority (as in almost all) of the people I see with their phones glued to their head are … [wait for it] … women.

    Just saying.

  9. From my perspective living on the big island…courtesy is almost non existent. People pull onto the highway without slowing down or even looking, way too many drivers drive well under the speed limit causing long “trains” of cars, apparently they don’t look behind them. And yes, don’t even get me started on the roads. Unfortunately we have lots of earthquakes due to Kilauea. I wish the drivers here were more aware that other drivers use the roads too and should exercise a little courtesy and pull over and let others go about their business.

  10. No.
    your statement: On hills with narrow roads, the driver going down has the right of way over the driver going up. Sometimes, you need to move over and let the downhill driver pass you.

    Uphill has the right of way

  11. When I visited Hawaii I left the driving to someone else. On Oahu I took The Bus and shuttles. On the other islands I took shuttles. I was impressed at the professional way the driver maneuvered the Road to Hana. When we went to Haleiwa all the Waikiki traffic must have followed us! It was crowded!

  12. We’ve been on the Big Island 8 years now. I still see the same amount of kindness and Aloha as when we arrived. Drivers will most often stop for pedestrians to let them cross even if they aren’t in a proper crosswalk. I’m let into the main road traffic pretty easily and I try to do the same. When I hear a horn, which is rare compared to when we visit family in Tampa, I believe most often it is a visitor.

  13. We moved to east side of Big Island four and a half years ago and were pleasantly surprised at how courteous local drivers were. Since then the situation has really changed, and not for the good. Long timers here are still friendly and courteous but the new transplants from the mainland and elsewhere are bringing their former driving habits with them. The top 5 complaints you listed in the post are what we are seeing a lot of. Hopefully, in time, newcomers will take a chill pill and remember that the laid back lifestyle of Hawaii is why they wanted to move here!

  14. BOH,

    “What was interesting to note is that 33% of survey participants in Hawaii have seen drivers get out of their cars to confront others. That is a much higher percentage than the Forbes survey indicated.”

    Not necessarily – it’s possible some/most of those drivers saw the same drivers getting out of their cars.

    Still, the roads and highways in Hawaii were not designed/built properly and poor road behavior is probably to be expected.


  15. I wouldn’t call 435 drivers out of a population of 1.4 million a “survey”. And I think the results would vary (dramatically?) island to island. Driving the H 1 in Honolulu is very different from driving Route 50 in Kauai. On Kauai, I still see people routinely let others merge, rarely hear a horn, rarely see tailgating, and do see Shaka’s for letting people go/merge ahead of you. Years ago I saw a great bumper sticker on an old car on a Kauai road driven my a local – “If you think I’m driving too slow, you’re on the wrong island.” Nuff said.

    1. Hi Tom.

      Yes there’s still a good amount of aloha on the road here on Kauai. We also see how much it is changing, and, as Pattie mentioned in an earlier comment, not for the better.


    2. Tom,

      I went to Survey Monkey with other 1,400,000 population, and they returned a sample size of 385, even less than the 435.

      That was with a Confidence Level of 95% and a Margin of Error of 5%

      When pollsters are checking with the public to see who they plan to vote for for President, I think they survey less than 1500.


    3. Spot on Tom…. Just had a friend visit (they went to Oahu and Maui) and commented how civil and nice the people they encountered in Hawaii compared to the mainland were. The simple fact is your experience is going to mirror how you drive. Drive with Aloha and it’s unlikely you’ll encounter any problems, drive aggressively and you likely will. I’m thinking the change in attitude by some says more about the change in some American’s attitude’s towards others then it says about Hawaii.

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