Tips, Tricks & Trends

You Should Avoid Driving in This State at All Costs, According to a New Study

When you think of Hawaii, you might picture beautiful beaches, warm weather, and great food. But if you’re planning to drive there, you might want to think again. According to a new study by WalletHub, Hawaii ranks as the worst state for car owners.

The study

The WalletHub study took data from 31 key indicators across all 50 states to see which areas had the overall best driving conditions. Each state was ranked individually on four main things: cost of vehicle ownership, traffic and infrastructure, safety, and access to vehicles and maintenance. From the gathered data, the states were then given an overall ranking and listed in order from best to worst.

In this study, Hawaii ranked 50th for the cost of ownership, 43rd for traffic and infrastructure, 8th for safety, and 39th for access to vehicles and maintenance. It got a total score of 38.77, marking it as the worst state in which to drive. 

Car theft

Lava intrusion from 2018 inside Isaac Hale Park on October 25,2019 in Big Island, Hawaii
Driving in the state of Hawaii | Giles Clarke/Getty Images

As you can see from these numbers, Hawaii was incredibly weak in three of the four areas — it only gained a decent score in safety. Even so, your car isn’t necessarily secure there. FBI data from 2016 indicates that Hawaii had 395 car thefts for every 100,000 people, compared to the nationwide 236 thefts per 100,000 people. While this number is going down, car theft in Hawaii is still incredibly high — it currently ranks as the state with the 48th highest rates of car theft, beaten only by New Mexico and Alaska. 

Skyrocketing prices

Hawaii has incredibly high repair and maintenance costs. This is largely due to the rarity of auto repair shops — out of all the states, Hawaii has the fewest auto repair shops per capita. When calculated per square root of the state’s population, this gives Hawaii a grand total of 0.214 auto repair shops. 

The small selection of places where people can get their cars repaired means that prices can skyrocket, making it pretty much impossible to get a good deal on maintenance. Similarly, Hawaii ranks as the state with the 48th fewest car washes per capita — once again leading to higher prices, longer waits, and difficulty with general vehicle maintenance. Overall, Hawaii has the highest vehicle maintenance costs in the country.

Hawaii is also the worst state for gas prices, ranking just below California in terms of expense. Gas prices in this state averaged $3.60 per gallon in 2019, compared to the national average of $2.82 per gallon. One of the reasons for Hawaii’s high gas prices is the fact that it isn’t located near a major pipeline. Instead, fuel needs to be shipped to the islands, instantly bumping up costs.

What makes Hawaii such a bad place to drive?

Perhaps unexpectedly, one of the things that contribute to the negative driving experience is Hawaii’s weather. Out of all the states, Hawaii had the second-highest number of days with precipitation — worse than both Alaska and Vermont. 

Hawaii’s small size and remote location are another two factors that make life challenging for car owners here. As the WalletHub study clearly shows, costs of maintenance and access to repair shops are huge detriments to drivers in Hawaii. The state’s small size and relatively large population mean that there simply aren’t enough resources per capita to support a significant number of drivers. Additionally, the fact that fuel and other equipment needs to be shipped in from the mainland raises costs for anyone trying to get their vehicle repaired.

Hawaii is the best state for a lot of things — driving simply isn’t one of them. Whether you live in Hawaii or you’re planning on visiting, this study might serve as a reminder: if you can, consider ditching the car and finding another way to get around.