There are a few reasons that you could find yourself needing to make a U-turn in Hawaii. Maybe you missed a turn, maybe you were looking for a spot to park and just drove past an open space without seeing it in time to stop or maybe that is the only way for you to get to the other side of the street. The reason that you are making a U-turn does not matter. What does matter is that you make your U-turn both safely and legally.
As far as safety goes when you are making a U-turn, you should begin by making sure you signal your intent to do so with the right amount of “notice.” So, be sure that you turn your blinker on a hundred feet prior to the place you intend to stop to make the U-turn.
One of the reasons that a higher level of caution is needed when making a U-turn is that oncoming vehicles may only think you are making a typical turn. This can be problematic because a U-turn will put you in the path of traffic much longer than a typical turn will. Thus, other oncoming cars could maintain a speed that is unsafe when someone is making a U-turn in front of them but perfectly safe when someone is making a traditional turn. This is why it is so important that you give yourself more than enough time and space when you are making a U-turn.
In order to be sure that you have enough space to make a U-turn, you should be sure that you are doing so across at least two lanes of traffic and not just one lane. One lane with or without a shoulder will only leave you with enough room to make a two or three point turn. Making a two- or three-point turn is fine but you will need much more time in which to do so, and that is dangerous because oncoming traffic could be bearing down on you momentarily.
The proper way to ensure that you have enough time to safely make your U-turn will be to stay focused on the oncoming traffic in front of you, when you see that traffic has cleared and that there are no oncoming cars that will reach the area that you are making the U-turn within five seconds, then you can start your turn. When you are turning make sure that you stay focused on your surroundings so that if another car does approach more quickly than you had anticipated, you will be able to react.
The legality of a U-turn will depend mostly upon where you are making your U-turn. U-turns are legal in all turn lanes that are not accompanied by a “no u-turn sign” which will be a sign that has a black upside down U with a circle and a line through the middle that is usually red. You can also legally make a U-turn where there are dotted white lines rather than solid white lines in the middle of a road.
Illegal U-turns include when you start your U-turn from anywhere other than the left-most lane of traffic because doing it from anywhere else would require you turning across cars that were driving in the same direction as you which is extremely unsafe. It is also illegal to make a U-turn when drivers cannot see you turning from at least five hundred feet away which can include the area before or on a blind curve. Making a U-turn can also land you with a ticket when you cross a highway divider or double solid yellow line to do so.
In Hawaii, if you are pulled over for making an illegal U-turn, you will face a fine which is left to “the officer’s discretion.” This means that the officer who witnessed your illegal U-turn and cited you for it will determine how serious and dangerous the actual illegal turn was. A ticket like this can end up causing your insurance rates to increase because it is a moving violation. However, Hawaii no longer uses a point system with regards to traffic offenses. So, it is difficult to tell how much your insurance could increase for an infraction such as this. Finally, if you frequently have been cited for other moving violations within eighteen months of getting an “improper turn” ticket for making an illegal U-turn, your license could also be suspended.
Making a U-turn is an easy and quick way for you to start heading in the opposite direction quickly when you are driving. Regardless of the reason for your U-turn, it is crucially important that you do so both safely and legally. If you do not and you try to hook your U-turn too quickly or from the middle lane of traffic you can easily be responsible for causing an accident. If you make an illegal U-turn you will face a fine that could be over a hundred dollars as well as a possibly increase in your insurance rates. If you had several previous and recent moving violations, you could also end up with a suspended license.