Star-Bulletin Features

Tuesday, July 21, 1998

Kip Aoki cartoon
By Kip Aoki, Star-Bulletin

The WORST Driver

Readers vent about the most annoying habits
of Hawaii drivers and the conclusion is that no matter
what happens, no matter where, it's always
the other guy.



IT'S amazing how four little blinking lights on the corners of a car bumper can draw such passion. The Star-Bulletin's Chat Room feature that asked about the worst trait of Hawaii drivers drew heavy response; more than 350 people took the time to write, fax or e-mail their opinions.


Add your vitriol to the fire here:
Chat: #%*!@# Hawaii drivers!


Turn signals

By far the most common complaints about drivers involved turn signals. The offending drivers come in several categories:

n The non-users. They include those who are too arrogant, lazy, forgetful or just plain clueless to turn on the blinkers. The non-user, readers said, is not only dangerous but rude.

Gary R.M. Tasaka: Absolutely the worst habit of drivers is not using turn signals (blinkers) when changing lanes, turning, merging and exiting the freeways. What gives? Too lazy to use one finger to flick on the blinkers? Auwe!

Sherrie Lum: The worst drivers are those who don't use turn signals. Help alleviate traffic congestion and promote aloha. Use your turn signals so other drivers can anticipate your actions.

n The confused users. This driver has trouble with the concept of left and right.

Mimi Webb: People signal right but turn left and visa versa. (What can I say!) Learn which way is right and which way is left again.

Vickie Cheng: The worst are the ones who have their signal lights on but don't turn or turn to the opposite side.

n The late users: Drivers who wait till the last minute to signal, especially when turning left, elicited strong comments.

Traci Correa: I'm at the intersection of Kalihi Street and Dillingham, heading toward Nimitz Highway, the stoplight is red and I am behind the car in the left lane. He has no turn signal on, so he's not turning left, right? Wrong! The light turns green and wouldn't you know it, he turns his signal on to turn left and I'm stuck behind him!!!

Doug Carlson: The worst are those who intend to turn left when the light changes but don't so indicate with their turn signal until the light turns green. It's a "local standard" not found elsewhere in my experience. It's as if everyone who learned to drive a couple generations ago was taught by a cadre of non-signalers. This "norm" was then passed on to the next generation, and so on.

n The unconscious users: These guys leave their blinkers on for miles and miles, oblivious to the indicator on their dashboards and the click-click-click the signal makes.

Judy Franz: The worst drivers are those who drive with their turn signals on! It's impossible to figure out if they're actually planning to make a turn or change lanes. This habit is especially aggravating, not to mention hazardous on the freeways.

Slow going in the left lane

We are in a rush, aren't we? The second most common complaint was about drivers who go too slowly in the left lane on a freeway.

Stacey Melemai: People who drive slow in the left lane are idiots. When you see a car passing you on the right, move it -- you're going too slow.

Steve Dempsey: Left lane bandits -- please, get out of the way if you want to go slow. I've seen car trails a half-mile long due to one inconsiderate fool.

Joe Au-Franz: Too many times we find a car in the left lane cruising at a slower speed than the normal flow of traffic. I've only seen one sign on Oahu that says "Slower Traffic Keep Right." What a novel idea. Start with making this a question on the written driver's test.

Beyond the limit

There was some disagreement about whether left-lane occupancy means you have to drive above the speed limit. Some people think that if you take to the left lane, you must drive as fast as the traffic will bear. Others think not.

Cynde Fernandes: People don't realize that the freeway limit is 55 mph and that anything over that is considered speeding. Being in the fast lane does not mean you can fly by at a speed you think is appropriate.

Jay O. Floan: Some drivers do not realize that the far left lane on the freeway is the passing lane, not for going 40 mph and nose picking.

Red-light runners

There were less than 10 complaints about speeders but drivers who run red lights, drivers who truly believe that the yellow light means to put the pedal to the metal, drew a lot of huffing.

Joyce Nuuhiwa: The most annoying drivers are the dangerous ones who run red lights! How many people need to be injured or killed before these lolos wake up?

A.K. Leong: Drivers speed through amber/red light only to have to stop at next intersection --red light. What's the rush??

Robert Gibbons: Some drivers not only like to run red lights, but expect you to also and almost rear-end you when you have the audacity to stop for a caution signal.

One reader, Erin Merriam, offers this poem:

Take your time; that appointment will wait.
Don't hurry along if you are late.
Nothing to be gained by jumping the gate except maybe gathering friends at your wake.
Run the red light, it's the latest fad!
This kind of behavior is selfish and bad.
Never mind leaving others squished like toads.
This most recent trend, is not safe on our roads.
I'm at the light, I wait my turn.
The guy next to me, starts to burn.
Rubber on the street, he'll never learn?
All good things come, when you wait your turn.


Other complaints concerned litterbugs, especially smokers who toss butts out of their cars.

Allison M. Lee: Annoying drivers are people who litter when they drive, tossing various projectiles like empty cans and bottles or cigarette butts onto the roadway. Equally disgusting are those who, while waiting at a stop, open their car doors to pour out their leftover beverages.

The rude and crude

Rudeness is general was another frequent complaint.

Clay Young: It's that funny kine Aloha spirit, you know when you put your blinkers on to change lanes and the guy in the other lane speeds up to close the opening that you were going to cut into.

But rudeness is a relative. Former islanders find mainland attitudes more harsh.

Dennis Menard: I recently moved to the San Francisco area from Honolulu. Drivers here are so rude compared to Hawaii! Be glad there is some aloha spirit left in Hawaii because there isn't any here!

Mopeds and bicycles

Riders of alternative vehicles -- mopeds, motorcycles and bicyclists were targets of negative statements.

Jerry Hiyakumoto: Some bicyclist take up the whole road and think they can go faster than cars. That goes for mopeds too!

Ed Fukuyama: What annoys me are mopeds and motor scooters or bicyclists coming from way behind me, driving on the dotted lines or lane dividers between long lines of cars, passing everybody who has stopped for the red light, then stopping right in front of everybody.

Cell phone & lipstick

Inattentive drivers were harshly criticized, especially those using cell phones and conducting personal grooming sessions while behind the wheel.

Clyde M. Yoshimura: People need to take driving seriously and not use the car as an extension of their bathroom (putting on makeup) or kitchen (eating breakfast and reading the paper).

Maile Kawamoto: I think the worst driver habit is talking on the phone while driving. When these drivers get really involved in their conversations, they no longer concentrate on what's going on around them.

Daphne Katranides: Using cell phones while driving is the height of arrogance. To all those drivers who think they are so important: "Hang up and drive!"

Mimi Webb: Women putting their makeup on while driving not only endanger others but themselves. Solution? Get up 5 minutes earlier if you want to look pretty! Otherwise someone else will have the opportunity to put makeup on for you.

Ignoring sirens

Drivers who ignore emergency vehicles or pedestrians took some lumps.

Helen Ayala: The most annoying thing is when I'm driving down the freeway and people can hear the siren of an ambulance or fire truck. Instead of pulling off to the right to give way, they all stop right where they are and the (emergency vehicles) can't get through. Where did they get their license from?

Lora L. Lami: What's the deal with stopping on the crosswalk rather than behind the line while making a right turn. Hawaii drivers have no respect for pedestrians!

It could be worse

Hawaii drivers may not the be the best in the world, but this former Hawaii resident has a good perspective.

Alexa Jacroux Biggs: Things have changed on Hawaii's roads since I first learned how to drive. People used to be much more considerate. Pau hana traffic wasn't really that bad. There were a lot of cars, but most were friendly and there was a lot of shaka signs and waves. But I still think that Hawaii's roads are some of the best in the nation. I feel comfortable driving there. I even feel comfortable enough to ride my bike on roads open to bicycles. Not all places are like that. I am currently living in Texas where I can't ride my bike for fear of being hit, on purpose. There have been instances of cyclists being "swerved at" that result in accidents. There have also been a few hit-and-runs. Texas is wide open spaces, so you could wait for hours before getting help. I believe this is why there are as many fatalities as there are. I also believe that Hawaii's drivers are still the most considerate. I can't count the number of times I have seen people drive over the median from the freeway to the access road in Houston. My hope for Hawaii drivers is that you read these pet peeves and potential hazards and enjoy a good laugh. Remember, the aloha spirit knows no bounds. So be courteous of your fellow drivers on roads!

Good advice

Some respondents maintained a sense of humor, one of whom was a Kauai resident.

Nolan Ahn, Lihue: George Carlin said, "Ever notice that anyone going slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster is a moron?" The problem is, as you are passing the "idiot," he is calling you a "moron." It just depends on the car you're in and the speed at which you're going. We are all idiots or morons to someone else. If you realize that, you can be a lot more tolerant on the road.

Well said, Nolan.

Top complainant

Another note: The person who had the most complaints was C. Dean Chu of Honolulu; he checked in with 83. Chill, C. Dean.


Add your vitriol to the fire here:
Chat: #%*!@# Hawaii drivers!


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