Honolulu Lite

by Charles Memminger

Monday, December 13, 1999

Pali Highway needs
a name change

I agree with a letter-to-the-editor writer who says that adding another stop light to the Pali Highway won't make a big difference in the number of pedestrians run over.

Another stop light is not going to change an important fact about Hawaii drivers, which is that most of them are idiots.

"Defensive driving" used to be taught in driving classes. (Driving classes were those quaint things you had to go to before the state let you command a 4,000-pound motorized mass of steel.) I adhere to the "Idiotic Driver" concept of driving, which states: "Assume everyone on the road but you is an idiot." The motto of the "Idiotic Driver" school is "Expect the Stupid!"

While defensive driving presumes that SOME drivers are going to do something stupid, my concept presumes that ALL drivers are going to do something stupid and they are going to do it to you.

This idea also should be adopted by anyone on foot in the immediate vicinity of a roadway, which is to say everyone in the state not presently inside of a vehicle.

More about the "Idiotic Driver" theory in a minute. First, let's talk about the Pali Highway and the problem of elderly people regularly being turned into hood ornaments.

The main problem with the Pali Highway is the second part of its name: Highway. See, there are all types of roadways: highways, streets, roads, boulevards, freeways and lanes. People should be able to cross some of these on foot, like streets and lanes.

Pedestrians should not be allowed near freeways and highways.

PEOPLE drive one way on streets and another on highways. On streets, they look (or should look) for things to suddenly appear in front of them like kids, balls, old people, puppies and baby carriages. On highways, drivers look for other things, like their cellular phones, CDs and the ashes that just spilled in their laps.

To suddenly have old people and kids anywhere near a highway where drivers are concentrating on putting on their makeup and other non-automotive enterprises, is, well, dangerous as hell.

So clearly, the Pali Highway should be renamed Pali Boulevard. Someone gets run down on a highway and it's assumed the flattenee was in the wrong. Someone gets run down on a boulevard, it's the driver's fault.

Now, even changing the name to Pali Boulevard isn't going to stop pedestrians from getting knocked around like bowling pins. That's because, like I said, most drivers are idiots.

There's a trend among young people today to take their sweet time while crossing a roadway. They deliberately walk slowly, looking at you with an expression that is supposed to say, "I'm cool and I'm bothering you," but actually says, "I'm a big dummy and I'm going to be roadkill one day."

They don't understand that the person they are giving the dumb stare to is not going to be the person running them over. That person is PAYING ATTENTION. They are going to be run over by the idiot driver fishing his Marlboros out of his glove compartment. That's not exactly my idea of a glorious death. So, I don't understand the whole concept of walking slowly through intersections. It is counter-intuitive to basic survival instincts. My feeling is that intersections are "zones of death" and you should spend as little time in them as possible.

So, drivers and pedestrians, adopt my philosophy: Everyone on the road but you is an idiot. And, be careful out there.

Charles Memminger, winner of
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
awards in 1994 and 1992, writes "Honolulu Lite"
Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Write to him at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802
or send E-mail to or

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