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Honolulu Police say at least half of car accident deaths are due to speeding. Driving over the speed limit is responsible for fatalities because drivers are frustrated with heavy traffic, are late to their destinations, or flat-out don’t care about people and/or speed limits. In general, the reason some islanders and tourists speed is aggressive driving, the police say.

Why is speeding a problem in Hawaii?

Driving in Hawaii
Traffic in Hawaii | Getty

Because traffic delays can make people late to their destinations, drivers exhibit “aggressive behavior” that results in speeding. And speeding is the cause of a large percentage of car crashes in Honolulu, Hawaii’s capital and largest city. That’s also true for other U.S. cities.

According to KHON2, the Honolulu Police says the potential results of speeding are as follows: 

  1. Greater possibility of losing control of the vehicle.
  2. Reduced effectiveness of seat belts and airbags. 
  3. Longer stopping distances.
  4. More severe injuries.
  5. Higher out-of-pocket costs and insurance premiums.

While the Honolulu Police are singling out speed as a threat, the U.S. Department of Transportation says that in 2021 and 2022, speeding vehicles resulted in one-third of all crashes in the United States. The simple solution is to follow posted speed limits.

How bad are car accidents in Hawaii?

On the island of Oahu, where Honolulu is located, 2021 traffic fatality statistics were as follows: 

  1. 47 traffic fatalities; of those, 34 included critical injuries
  2. 27 involved alcohol or drug intoxication; of those, 25 involved speeding
  3. 24 of these accidents involved pedestrians; 18 involved pedestrians who did not use crosswalks
  4. For motorcycles, 15 involved mopeds, and 27 involved the lack of helmets; overall motorcycle crash statistics were unavailable. 

In 2021, car fatalities on the small island increased by over 10% from the previous year. In 2021, almost 43,000 people died. That’s the highest spike since 2005.  

What does that mean for tourists?

A Hawaii vanity license plate
Hawaii vanity license plate | Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The NHTSA provides additional statistics:

  • Fatalities in multi-vehicle crashes increased by 16% 
  • Fatalities on urban roads increased by 16% 
  • Fatalities among drivers 65 and older grew by 14% 
  • Pedestrian fatalities increased by 13% 
  • Fatalities in crashes involving at least one large truck rose by 13% 
  • Daytime fatalities increased by 11% 
  • Motorcyclist fatalities increased by 9% 
  • Bicyclist fatalities increased by 5% 
  • Fatalities in speeding-related crashes increased by 5% 
  • Fatalities in police-reported, alcohol-involvement crashes increased by 5%

So the bottom line is that residents and tourists will be in the spotlight when driving Hawaii’s highways and byways. And that means if you plan to visit the islands, be aware of and follow the posted speed limits. Broadly, the locals say, “Slow down — this isn’t the mainland.” That philosophy of “island time” should help some visitors mellow out. But it should be something all Hawaiian visitors take to heart.