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Kauai Driving -- being too aggressive can be hazardous

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Kauai Driving -- being too aggressive can be hazardous


We have our share of crazies too. Regardless of who made the initial faux pas, being laid back esp with regard to the speed limits and the inevitable string of cars that result from long stretches of 2 lane blacktop is part and parcel of Kauai driving.

Kauai, Hawaii
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1. Re: Kauai Driving -- being too aggressive can be hazardous

We definitely see a lot of bad drivers here on kauai. Many are visitors who just flat have no clue. You just cannot tell what they are going to do. Maybe they do not even know.

But we also have local drivers, who know the island,, and drive their style, so the visitors need to be aware of some of their driving habits.

Running stop signs, and stop lights. This is not just once in a while , it is on a constant basis. Be alert for that.

Following too close. Yep, bad news. For whatever reason, you will have someone on your six, just a few feet off your rear bumper. Very prevelant

Crossing the center line into oncoming traffic. This is very dangerous and many times results in fatalities. We have had some close calls, but managed to escaped so far.

Two lane country roads, no shoulder, and very narrow. For some reason, a vehicle, usally a lifted pick up or SUV comes roaring around blind turns, and due to centrifical force and to speed, will slide into the oncoming lane. You will likely encounter this situation on the back country roads.

The other biggie is just like the mainland. IMPAIRMENT...due to drugs, alcohol, or inattention. We see this a lot, with island vehicles swerving from one side of the road to the other.....and could be responsible for some of the head on collisions.

as to some of the visitors........they stop when there is no stop light, on a fast moving ( for kauai ) road.

They make u turns in front of traffic, they back up on roads if they miss a turn. I have had them back up at night on unlit roads, with a blind turn.

They stop in the traffic lanes to take pictures of chickens or the scenery.

The drive well below the speed limit, which is low enough as it is. Or way to fast. Others nail the speed limit right on, and the traffic keeps flowing.

The stop in the middle of the road to read maps.....the list just goes on and on.

So, dear TA'ers, just some tips on keeping out of a hassel

1. Go at least the speed limit

2. Driver stays alert to traffic, right seater navigates and looks at scenery.

3. Be aware of the island drivers and now you know what to look for.

4. Give yourself plenty of time to get some place. Before you depart study the route, and landmarks and mile markers and have an idea of what to expect on your route.

All of the above are factual. Also, our roads were not built t thought with progress and the growth that kauai has experienced. The roadways were built mostly for a small agraraian society. Just be aware of that .

And for goodness sake , stay cool. Do not hassel a local. Or you might get a fairly immediate physical response.

Good stuff that you will see:

Almost everyone is respectful of pedestrians and will be stopping to let them cross roads. You will notice this all the time.

Also, they are very thoughtful about letting vehicles into traffic, or entering from side streets. 100% different from my old mainland area.

So , we do drive with aloha..... be ready for that also.

Dave, mahalo for the scoops in the GIN and road rage. It has been a while since I posted some of the driving habits of our island. New posters might want to be aware.


Edited: 01 November 2011, 18:55
Destination Expert
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2. Re: Kauai Driving -- being too aggressive can be hazardous

you should see the tourists where i live...stop sign , what is that...red light, that must be green in idaho. we think we have the dumbest tourists...but come here and spend your money..please

Soddy Daisy...
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3. Re: Kauai Driving -- being too aggressive can be hazardous

Data at the following website says Kauai is right at the national average. About the same as Mauai, worse than Honolulu and a lot better than the Big Island.


I haven't seen anything particularly unique to Kauai. Sober, defensive driving is important everywhere.

Kauai, Hawaii
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4. Re: Kauai Driving -- being too aggressive can be hazardous

Data for that link is the motor vehicle crash death rate only.

Not driving habits, or outdated road conditions, or what to be alert for. Nor does it take into account the high alcoholic , and drug problems, including the underage drinkers. Pretty high for a small population on a remote island.

We live here, and are well aware of driving habits, from both locals and visitors, and only wish to convey to the vistors how to be prepared and to avoid any problems.

Anyone, of course is totally free to ignore the tips that I have posted from actually seeing and witnessing , daily, over many years as to what occurs on our roads.

Totally agree on alertness, driving sober, and driving defensively. Excellent idea.


Edited: 01 November 2011, 23:42
Island of Hawaii...
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5. Re: Kauai Driving -- being too aggressive can be hazardous

Stats that only include fatalities don't tell the whole story though.

On the Big Island, no accidents that happen on private roads go into the stats. We have miles and miles of private subdivision road, and none of it is counted in official tallies.

One thing I like to remind visitors of is that folks who grow up on a small island have their own style of driving, and you don't know what the quirks are (many of which Denny mentioned), so be cautious.

As for road rage, I have heard accounts where the local guy came out of vehicle with a baseball bat in hand ... I do NOT make moves to annoy local drivers. One time I turned right when I shouldn't have, by mistake not aggression, and the local drivers dogged me for three blocks, in this big truck, right on my bumper ... Luckily I had a driveway to turn into and end it.

La Mirada...
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6. Re: Kauai Driving -- being too aggressive can be hazardous

I betcha there's way more to the story than what the GIN printed, but regardless, all drivers should be courteous no matter where. Too bad so many of them here in SoCal aren't......


Soddy Daisy...
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7. Re: Kauai Driving -- being too aggressive can be hazardous

I am two and out on this one.

People who live elsewhere just may have a more balanced perspective. The "I live here, so I am right and you better listen to me" attitude is patronizing.

It is a disservice to Kauai and Hawaii in general to dwell on the car break in business. Many conclude from all the dire warnings that Hawaii is an unsafe place to leave an unattended car. There's no need to do the same thing with driving in Kauai. Kauai has its share of drugs, alcohol, and ruffians on its roads, more or less the same as anywhere else. Cut off a thug on the NJ Turnpike, and you'll get the same reaction as in Kauai.

The statistics, which do include alcohol and on/off road fatalities, indicate Kauai is about average. Speaking from a half million miles of driving experience across the US, including the NJ Turnpike, Washington Beltway, and LA Freeway, and across Europe includes everything Denny mentioned and more. Everyone has a story to tell about bad drivers.

The point is, and Denny makes it, that you don't get a time out on vacation. Always drive sober, alert and defensively. In scenic spots, tourists are often distracted, in Kauai, Yellowstone, Great Smoky Mountains, or wherever. Watch for it.

Denny, I love you, but you make it hard!

Kauai, Hawaii
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8. Re: Kauai Driving -- being too aggressive can be hazardous

Very interesting situation just came up yesterday..here on the island of kauai.

Tuesday about 3 pm, we were driving back to our condo at Banyan Harbor, from bbqing up at Lydgate.

We passed the intersection that takes traffic up thru hanamaulu via 56 to Lihue . Which we avoid, and take Kapule Hwy to Rice St.

OOOPs ! As we aproached the KPD jail and police station, the KPD was re routing traffic. Kapule hwy was totally closed off between there and Rice street. Both directions.

Several KPD were directing our extremely slow long line of traffic off of Kapule up past the police station parking lot, then up and north of Vidinha Stadium and then to Ho'olako. That finally put us out on Rice.

Now, remember when I mentioned swerving drivers that are under the influence.

Turns out that there was a single vehicle crash. The witness behind the crashed vehicle said that vehicle in front of her had been swerving from side to side. We see that often, and Erica always, urges me to stay away from " them ".

The swerving vehilce failed to see another car that was stopped to make a left hand turn into the golf course at Kauai Lagoons. It swerved to avoid the stopped car, and hit a utility pole breaking the pole in half.

The witness had to react quickly to avoid the same car and wound up in the right hand lane with downed power lines hanging and sparking.

Kapule Road was closed until late afternoon. The accident occured at about 2:30 pm.

So, it appears that some of my tips might have come in handy for a visitor who could have been behind the swerving car.....do not follow too closely , especially knowing from seeing the vehicle serving ahead , that it was a good chance the driver was impaired.

And , yes, there is a huge difference in coming here for a week every so many years, and living here. We are very aware of what is going on around us on daily basis. From flying fighter planes it is called " situational awareness " . Erica is also a pilot, and has been trained to think ahead, and she does.

So, there is the most recent update that has occured, and that we missed by about 30 minutes.


Oh, I have a closer one for you all.

Headed up to hanapepe, a large county garbage truck was ahead of me maybe two cars. I first spotted him hauling very fast up Nawiliwili as I came out of the kukui grove shopping village. He passed and I turned out to follow on the same route.

We both wound up going the same direction. It is some distance to hanapepe, and other traffic came and went, and I had quite a bit of seperation, maybe two other cars.

As we came down the long hill we were approaching the intersection that leads to Port Allen.....no traffic light installed at that time.

All of a sudden, the cars in front of me stop, a car is careening across the oncomming lane, and rolls over in a ditch. The truck driver is climbing out of his cab with his cell phone in hand.

The outcome, was that the station wagon, with two others on board, roared thru a stop sign, and hit the large garbage truck, bounced off the truck and wound up rolling into the ditch on the oposite side of the road.

The driver of the station wagon was KILLED.

Time line for me was only a few seconds from impact of the two vehicles to my stopping behind the truck.

I have a book full of nearly every day instances of observing driving habits on this island. Here are only two.

My point is just a recommendation to stay alert, and be aware.

And again, anyone can disregard any of the information that we have posted and drive as they wish.


Edited: 02 November 2011, 14:20
San Jose, California
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9. Re: Kauai Driving -- being too aggressive can be hazardous

These stories are eye openers. Now I am regretting having rented a car for my upcoming trip. Instead, I wish I had the duckets to hire a tank and driver to get me around.

But seriously, I appreciate this thread and its warnings. I will hopefully learn the short cuts to avoid heavy traffic and closures quickly.

Oahu, Hawaii
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10. Re: Kauai Driving -- being too aggressive can be hazardous


Great tips from the above posters.

I always drive the speed limit.

Know where i'm going.

Give the driver in front of me more then enough room.

I dont drive behind the vehicle so he can see my face in his side rear view mirror.

I ignore tailgaters and try to pull over.

I dont like to make eye contact, I just let it slide.

A wave and a smile goes a long way over here.

Happy driving,