The Problems with Hawaii’s Roads and Traffic Patterns

Jump to:
The current condition of roads in Hawaii
The issues with the traffic patterns in Hawaii
Can anything be done to fix these problems?
Tips for driving safely in Hawaii


Hawaii has long been known for a very “unique” driving experience. Many of the permanent residents there have a very laid back and, what many would describe as, slow way of driving.

Once you actually get to Hawaii and start driving, you will start to realize why they drive this way. According to a 2016 report, the state ranks fifth on a list of the states with the worst roads in the country. Potholes and general road disrepair are the two main contributing factors to this dubious honor.

On top of that, the state has long been notorious for its borderline senseless traffic patterns which tend to be responsible for a higher than normal rate of car accidents.

The current condition of roads in Hawaii

As was just mentioned, the current condition of the roads in Hawaii is very poor. On average, Hawaiian drivers spend almost nine hundred dollars a year on car repairs related to the conditions of the roads. That is over two hundred and fifty dollars higher than the national average.

However, the state has spent a lot of money and effort in the past two years repaving roads and repairing these deficiencies.

Still, certain areas of the state have roads that are in noticeably worse condition than roads you might see anywhere else in America.

The issues with the traffic patterns in Hawaii

The traffic patterns in Hawaii have always been an issue for drivers. This is a direct result of the way that the roads in Hawaii were designed. By looking at some of the roads with their traffic patterns in mind, you might think some sort of insane person designed them.

At certain points, four-way traffic is actively crossing and turning against itself. It can be a real mess sometimes and this includes a five-way intersection where most of the lanes have limited options in terms of turning in including one lane where you are not allowed to travel straight.

This also causes a lot more traffic and not just from the occasional accident that occurs but also from people waiting to long to cross through an intersection or turn because of how unsafe it is sometimes.

Can anything be done to fix these problems?

Yes and no. The physical condition of the roads can be obviously be repaired little by little and over time. It will be pretty expensive but at least it will get done with such an investment.

Improving the traffic pattern and flow situation is another story. Unfortunately, it is much more complex than just paving over some potholes.

First of all, any city needs a strong justification in order to re-arrange the flow of traffic. It cannot just be that “it makes driving more difficult.” There must be a legitimate safety concern in order for there to be anything done in terms of rearranging the traffic patterns.

Secondly, changing this would be extremely expensive. It is not a typical road repair such as potholes. It is much more involved than that. It requires street closures, re-painting street lines, new road signs, re-programming traffic signals and much more.

For now, you will just need to drive with extreme caution in these areas or, better yet, you should try to avoid these areas as much as you can. Some of the worst traffic pattern areas in Hawaii are:


Tips for driving safely in Hawaii

If you will be driving in Hawaii anytime in the near future. You will need to make sure that you do your best to avoid any sort of damage to your vehicle from the conditions of the road or the unorthodox traffic flow.
Here are some tips for driving safely in Hawaii:

  • Drive slow – You might not actually have much of a choice with this first tip at times, but the traffic tends to move more slowly in Hawaii. It is just their way. Don’t worry though, there are tons of great sights to take in as you drive so there’s no need to rush.
  • Yield to your fellow drivers – As we have made very clear, some of the intersections in Hawaii are extremely confusing and very dangerous. It is better to take your time and wave someone else on than to take a risk and assume you have the right of the way.
  • Keep an eye out – Be on the lookout as best you can be for potholes. Hawaii has done a pretty nice job of taking care of many of them but many still remain.
  • Go with the flow – If you aren’t sure about the way an intersection flows or works, just pay attention to traffic and follow suite with a high level of caution and alertness. Try and read any and all road signs before doing so as well.



In the end, Hawaii is a wonderful place to be. It might just be a little difficult to drive on the roads there sometimes. Take caution, drive slowly and follow the flow of traffic and you should be fine.

If you have to worry about driving while you are in Hawaii, you should not have to worry about shipping your car there in the first place. Hawaii Car Transport can get your car to or from Hawaii, worry free!

Category: Automobile Transportation.