Hawaii Opinions

Driving in Hawaii is a neverending nightmare

I never thought I'd miss Washington D.C. traffic

WalletHub, a site that ranks anything and everything so that people like me will comment on it, just released its list of the best and worst states to drive in and to the surprise of absolutely nobody that lives here, Hawaii ranked dead last.

Here are the factors the study took into account and how Hawaii ranks on each:

  • 35th for rush-hour traffic congestion
  • 43rd for car theft rate (can confirm my car was stolen)
  • 50th for auto repair shops per capita
  • 50th for average gas prices
  • 49th for car maintenance costs
  • 48th for road quality
  • 49th for the number of car dealerships per capita (explains why people only drive Toyota Tacomas or Highlanders)

When I first moved to Aloha state, the last thing on my mind was “what a nightmare it’s going to be to drive around the island”. Even if I had thought of driving, there was no way it could be worse than where I was coming from. I was born and raised in Northern Virginia and had to commute through the 495/267/295/395/66 East clusterfuck every single day (if you know, you know). I used to travel 16 miles from Arlington to Reston for work which took me an average of 90 minutes each way (that’s an average speed of 10 MPH, it took me an embarrassing amount of time to calculate that). It’s a culture where you drive angry, get to work angry and get home angry because a good majority of your life is spent staring at brake lights and wondering where everything went wrong.

People in the DC area drive like aggressive assholes but it’s not that maddening because I understand the mentality. We’re all competing to get to where we’re going as fast as possible, some are just more aggressive than others. It’s deplorable behavior but when you’re competing with 5 million people all forced to drive on the same circle every day you have to adopt a ruthless mentality.


The 9th circle of hell

I never thought I would miss the BMW driving dickheads that roam the beltway but Hawaii has made me yearn for those days.

Where do I even begin? The drivers here are terrible, the roads are worse, and like most issues in Hawaii, there’s not much that can be or is being done about it. I have driven around Hawaii in every type of vehicle: Car, moped, and motorcycle. I’ve seen the horror up close and personal and have struggled to contain my frustrations. Here’s my theory as to why Hawaii is so bad at cars.

Whoever designed these roads should be shot

The city planning team or civil engineers involved in building H1 and the various merges and exits are the most incompetent people I’ve never met. It’s like they designed this place without thinking that anybody else would want to move here. The complete lack of foresight is astonishing. I can imagine the conversation between people working on this project.

“Hey, so this exit just kind of…enters the freeway without any merge lane or anything. People need to go from 0-50 in maybe half a second.”

“Yeah that’ll be OK though, there are only 10 cars taking this exit so no biggie.”

“But what if the population increases, like, at all?”

“Haha what? Who would want to move to a tropical paradise that’s 80 degrees every day and has the best beaches on Earth?”

“Fair point. You know what? Let’s make all the exits like this”

“Now you’re talking!”

Every single exit from downtown to Kahala is a disaster waiting to happen. It’s like they wanted H1 to be at a standstill every day.

Not only that, but they decided that downtown was getting too crowded so they made a “second city” out in Kapolei which functions like the suburbs do in most major cities. Good idea on paper, except that nobody wanted to live out there as much as the government had anticipated. And now that it has caught on because real estate prices have forced everybody out, all of the stress is put on H1, a highway that would struggle to transport 100,000 people much less 1.4 million. It takes commuters 2.5 hours to get to and from work most days if they live in Ewa Beach or Kapolei. I have a 30-minute commute and I’m this angry, I can only imagine what those people feel.


Probably this

Hawaii realized the horrible position they have put everybody in and decided to take action when it was far too late. Their solution is to build a light rail from Kapolei to Downtown. Again, not a bad idea on paper but considering the people in charge are the same people who fucked the infrastructure in the first place, it was destined to fail.

The Honolulu Rail is starting to look a lot like the monorail project from The Simpsons. We were sold a bill of goods that may never be delivered. The project was supposed to cost $5.3 billion and is now up to $8.3 billion and rising. That’s actually not as surprising as most people may think. Most massive public works projects are overpromised and underdelivered, cost overruns are the norm. But most other cities have the population density and associated tax revenue to absorb overruns. Hawaii does not. And the Federal government is this close to cutting off funding.

In addition to the cost overruns, contractors are now (rightfully) suing HART for causing massive delays and additional costs that could have easily been avoided and then refusing to compensate them. Now, people across the islands that will never use the rail will now be footing the bill for decades to come.

But I came here to talk about driving, not how incompetent our state legislators are. Wait, let me add one more thing.

The state of Hawaii refuses to maintain these shitty roads

Governor Ige actually had the balls to raise gas and vehicle taxes to fix the roads because apparently he’s set fire to the tax money that was supposed to go towards fixing them. He’s basically saying “Hey, we wasted all the road money on this pointless rail project so we need you to give us way more. We promise we’ll fix it this time.” Hawaii ranks 48th in road quality, I would have put it at 65th.

I’ve seen potholes that could swallow a Prius. I used to drive a moped every day and it was like traversing a minefield. Even when the state spends money to actually fix things they can’t do it right. They recently repaved Kalaniana’ole highway (a name I can’t spell or pronounce) which was awesome until I almost died running over a sewer grate that hadn’t been paved over properly. It was like a giant pole in the middle of the road that nearly Evil Kenieviled me out of existence.

This culture of gross incompetence means your car will most certainly get damaged from hitting one of these potholes/construction mistakes. But not to worry, we rank 50th in auto repair shops per capita and 49th in auto repair costs, so when your car inevitably bottoms out, you can rest assured it will be difficult to find a repair shop and cost way more than it should.

The perfect storm of bad drivers

Remember that movie “The Perfect Storm“? Where that fishing boat gets stuck in between two tropical storms and a hurricane that all converge at the same time and then kills Mark Wahlberg and George Clooney? That’s what Hawaii is like for drivers. There are three factors that go into this.

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Not all Asian people are bad drivers, that’s an ignorant, racist thing to say. I’m saying most Asian people are bad drivers. It’s the same as saying all white people love turkey. There are a few weirdos but most of us can’t get enough of that dry, flavorless bird. It’s built into our DNA.

Plus this isn’t me regurgitating stereotypes. I’ve almost been killed more times than I can count on H1 by Asian women in massive land rovers or highlanders that refuse to check their blind spot before changing lanes. Apparently, side and rearview mirrors are there purely for decoration.

At least they drive the speed limit, the same can’t be said for old people. In case you were unaware, Hawaii is the ideal place to retire if you can afford it. People from all over the world come here to die, which leads to a large population of geriatrics driving 8,000 lbs. Buicks who can barely hear, see or move. Do I even need to explain why this is a problem?

I’m also annoyed that every time I bring up the fact that old people should not be driving, everybody gets indignant, “Imagine if that was your grand mammy!” “They have rights too!” “We tried to take my grandmas license but she’s just so stubborn haha.” Yes, it’s hilarious that your grandma is too stubborn to give up driving so she puts countless lives at risk on a daily basis. lol she killed a family of 5 because she refuses to listen to reason, what a tough old bird! If you’re over 85, you shouldn’t be allowed to drive a car. You’re at the finish line, don’t try to take the rest of us with you.

In addition to the generalizations above, there is one issue I didn’t see coming, being too polite and courteous whilst driving. I’m not throwing shade at the Aloha spirit, but when it comes to driving that attitude is straight up dangerous.  Stopping dead in the middle of the highway to let somebody merge is a big middle finger to everybody driving behind you. Same with stopping in the middle of the road because somebody at a 4-way intersection needs to make a left turn when YOU DON’T HAVE A STOP SIGN. JESUS.

So it goes

I don’t have any solutions to these problems, and I doubt they’ll ever be solved. This transportation infrastructure was designed to fail decades ago and now there’s no going back. And the population dynamics are going to stay the same for the foreseeable future. The only hope we have is that the rail delivers on all of its promises and becomes the miracle solution that remedies all of the bad decisions that came before.

Basically, we’re fucked.

Rail never done

Projected completion date 2058

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