Saturday, April 4, 2015

Driving on Maui (The Good, The Bad and The Ugly)

Driving on Maui ain’t so bad. There isn’t much traffic except in Kahului around lunch time and near the airport, and Pa’ia or Lahaina during “rush hour.” It is like kindergarten traffic compared to LA, NY, or Honolulu (which I’ve heard is the city with the worst traffic in America).

"Drive slow" is a common road sign on Maui.
The hand symbol is a shaka sign, a friendly gesture to greet people and say hello.
Drivers sometimes do the shaka sign to thank another driver for letting them in.
Some observations (including common gripes):

  • Drivers are often super polite and will let you in, even though you have a stop sign and they have the right of way. Sometimes this is confusing. Sometimes this is very thoughtful, especially because you could wait for a long time to get in traffic. Many drivers will let you cut in front of them, let you pass, or slow down for you.
  • People are generally reluctant to honk their horns. Drivers are generally patient here and will tolerate a lot of foibles, except for my husband who is the only horn honker on this island. If you hear a horn honking at you, it’s probably him.
Typical Hawaii bumper sticker in pidgin.

  • People often STOP in the middle of the road, especially where I live in the boonies. Sometimes they see a friend across the street or in the other lane and they stop and chat. This was something you could do in Old Maui, but now Maui is too populated and you can’t get away with this behavior, but some older residents still do this. Other people are tourists who are hopelessly lost and should pull over but persist in using their idiot GPS on a smartphone which is sometimes appallingly inaccurate for Maui roads.
  • If people drive particularly rudely and aggressively, they are often fresh off the plane and full of adrenaline. These are usually the drivers who block the intersection near the airport. 
  • Often slow drivers will be in BOTH the left and right lane of the road. Most highways are not bigger than four lanes. Slow drivers in both lanes can block traffic for several cars behind them. ROADBLOCK! No one can get around them.
  • Cars will sometimes pull out on to the road just in front of you, not looking at all, and then drive really SLOWLY.
  • Sometimes, drivers who are slow will not be aware of the long line of cars behind them, and will not pull over. Just pull over, you dumb nitwit up front! Stop playing with your phone or your noodle, or whatever.
Do we drive too slow on Maui? My friend JE Lorin used to live on Maui and shared her thoughts.
BTW, shameless promotion of her new book: The Artifact.
SLOW Surfboard sign in upcountry Maui.
  • Watch out for Taguma. He is our celebrity police officer who has been known to arrest his own mother for speeding.
  • Accidents do happen on Maui. Hawaii is a no-fault state for car insurance. Sadly, many people drive without car insurance. They have insurance cards that they can show to the police, but when you call their insurance company, find out that they cancelled it a month after they started the policy. The police could care less and will be unhelpful. I’m speaking from real life experience.

There are not many cops for the population of Maui, compared to the ratios of cops to residents in other places of the United States. Sometimes this is good when you do a “California stop” at a stop sign instead of a full 3-second stop, or speed in an area that’s only 40 mph, because you will probably not get a ticket because no one saw you. Sometimes this sucks when you see someone who is a public menace even to people on the sidewalks, and should get a ticket.

I suspect drugs play a role in driving on Maui. Sometimes I think the super crazy drivers are the ones on crystal meth, and the super slow drivers are the ones who are smoking pot.

Novelist JE Lorin further reflected on her time on Maui:

“… with so many people visiting from all over the world, a lot of people didn't understand American traffic laws. Drivers would do dumb stuff all the time. Dan always tried to tell me that it was a good thing everyone drove so slow because it was really easy to avoid accidents. Lol!

Oh, and once I was driving up the highway to Pukalani when I came across a mattress just lying in the middle of the highway. I had to swerve to avoid crashing. I never understood how a mattress could fall off of someone's truck without them noticing, lol.” 

PS. There are parts of Maui that seem like they should have more roads and don’t. You have to drive ALL the way around one side of the island and back to get to an area that’s only 10 miles away, but has no public road connecting them. I’ll try to address roads and maps a little later this month.

Other posts of interest:
Watch out for Taguma (our infamous ticketing cop)

Here's a shortcut to the archives for the A to Z Challenge and other blog posts.

The theme of this year’s A to Z Challenge is Living on Maui: A Beginner’s Survival Guide. While I can’t include everything in only 26 short blog posts, this is my foolish attempt.

If you are participating in the A to Z Challenge, please use either Disqus or Facebook to comment below. Please include your link so that I can visit you back, but it might be as late as May!



  1. Awesome! I'm just now branching out to other bloggers with the A-Z Challenge. Visiting from Are We There Yet?

    Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Diane, thanks for stopping by... Sometimes it's hard to branch out and blog hop when we're trying to keep up.

  3. It is. I find I have the most time to respond while I'm drinking my first cup of coffee in the morning or drinking my first beer of the evening! Lol

  4. We still come across people stopping in the middle of the street to talk to each other in our town. The drivers, alas, are younger people....How funny that your Husband honks the horn.

  5. Lol, I love that bumper sticker. Some of the bad and ugly sounds a lot like the way people drive here.


Comments are important to me, so mahalo for adding a comment! I will try to follow up when I receive one.