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Mr. Barlow is the Author of "The Ultimate Guide to Accident Injury Cases in Hawaii." Available at:
Worked for the
United States Air Force
Member of the Board of Governors of the Hawaii Association for Justice
Why are there so many car accidents in Hawaii?
Hawaii has always had more car accidents per person than most states in the country. This problem has been baffling for politicians and regular citizens of Hawaii for many years. It seems that we have tried everything possible to reduce the number of car accidents in Hawaii but these efforts have been in vain. There have been laws passed to prohibit driving with electronic devices. There have been public awareness campaigns. There have been changes to laws. Nothing has helped. People are dying on the roads of Hawaii more than ever. Pedestrians are being hit by cars more often than before. So what's going on? Why is this such a problem in Hawaii?
The number one reason for accidents in Hawaii is distracted driving. Cell phones are the main reason for distracted driving. People just can't bring themselves to put down their phones. They just can't resist the texts that beep while they're driving. They just can't help themselves but check their social media and emails while they're driving. Because this is the top reason for accidents in Hawaii most likely the rate of car accidents will only increase in the future. People are more addicted to their phones than ever. It gets worse all the time. There have been studies to show that cell phones can actually be a clinical addiction. In order to get a grip on the high rate of car accidents in Hawaii, we need to get a grip on the high rate of cell phone addiction. We live in paradise! There is no excuse for being addicted to a little piece of plastic and glass. Look around! We live in one of the best places in the world. The weather is almost always perfect. There is so much to do here! The beach is always a great idea. There are tons of amazing hikes. There are many kinds of water sports. There are many kinds of land sports. We would be amazed at how much we could reduce the number of car accidents in Hawaii by simply becoming less addicted to our phones and more addicted to outdoor activities.
One reason for the high rate of pedestrian accidents in Hawaii is good weather. Hawaii has some of the best year-round weather on the planet. Because of the good weather in Hawaii, there are more people on the streets walking around. Not only can people walk around during every month of the year, but they can also walk around during any time of the day. Because of this, there are simply many more chances for there to be a pedestrian accident.
Sadly, there are many elderly people injured and killed in pedestrian accidents in Hawaii. One reason for this is the fact that Hawaii has one of the oldest populations in the country. We simply have many more elderly people than other states. People live longer here because of the great weather and active lifestyles. People also live longer here because of healthy eating habits. Drivers in Hawaii need to be aware of the elderly population that we have here. They need to watch out of people on crosswalks. They need to be patient and wait for people to cross, no matter how slow an elderly person may be walking. Drivers need to be aware of crosswalks even at night. Many crosswalks in Hawaii are not well lit so we need to be even more cautious as we approach crosswalks in the evening.
The roads in Hawaii are some of the worst around. They need a lot of work. The roads are not lit well enough. The Hawaii State Government and Honolulu County Government need to put a higher priority on our roads. If the funds aren't there then they need to come and inform the public so that the public can encourage the elected leaders to make changes. There is no excuse to have such terrible roads in Hawaii. Hawaii brings in a lot of revenue due to the lucrative tourist industry. These funds need to be put to good use so that we have safer communities.
There are way too many people driving around in Hawaii without valid driver's licenses and without insurance. We have way too many clients come to us to get help when they've been injured by someone who didn't have insurance. It is way too common in Hawaii. The laws are too lenient when it comes to driving around without a license or insurance. Yes, there's a $500 ticket for not having insurance. But what happens if you don't go and pay it? You lose your license. What happens if you already didn't have a license? Nothing. In other words, once someone loses their license there is no incentive not to drive. There is no incentive to have insurance. Let's face it. People without a license or insurance are worse drivers than others. They have nothing to lose. They don't care. They usually have beat-up old cars that they don't care about smashing. When these people cause an accident the police officer shows up and gives them a ticket to appear in court. They usually don't appear in court and then the police don't do anything other than suspend their license (if they even had one). If the government in Hawaii were serious about getting uninsured and unlicensed people off of the road, they would impound their cars. It doesn't make sense that a police officer would show up at an accident, make a note that the person who caused the accident didn't have a license or insurance and then just issues him a citation and watches him drive away. That makes no sense! Why are we allowing them to drive away only to injure more people and cause more damage without any consequences?
The victims in accidents can also do better at helping to avoid collisions. There are too many pedestrians who go walking out on crosswalks without even looking for cars. They think that because they have the right of way they can just go walking into traffic and the cars will have to hit their brakes to try to avoid hitting them. Even if you're on a crosswalk you need to do the best you can to avoid collisions. Look both ways. Step out slowing into traffic. Although you shouldn't run on a crosswalk, you should at least hurry across. You should certainly not be using your phone on a crosswalk. Way too many pedestrians are walking around the streets distracted by their phones. We've all seen the YouTube videos where people walk into walls or into water fountains because they were staring down at their phones. Pedestrians have just as much responsibility to not be distracted as drivers. Everyone needs to work together to avoid accidents. Way too many accidents happen because people decide that because they have the right of way they don't need to try to avoid a collision. It's something called Defensive Driving. Even though the accident would not have been your fault, it's better to drive defensively and avoid the accident altogether.
Hawaii can do much better at avoiding injury and death due to auto accidents. Each one of us needs to do better. We can all be better drivers and pedestrians. We can all try to be less distracted. Let's leave the phones in our pockets and actually look around and enjoy the beautiful people and scenery of Hawaii. By doing so, not only can we make Hawaii a safer state but we can also make it a happier and more fulfilling place to live.