Hawaii attracts visitors year round because of its favorable temperatures
and tropical breezes. But the islands certainly see some violent weather
as well, often while conditions on the neighbor islands are still sunny
and clear. High winds, heavy rains, and thunderstorms can strike without
much warning. Some drivers in Hawaii drive too fast for the road conditions
during bad weather and their careless behavior leads to serious accidents
Severe weather affects driving by reducing visibility, making cars harder
to handle, reducing pavement traction, and making vehicles less stable
and maneuverable. High winds can topple trees, knock down power lines
and make driving extremely dangerous, as a storm did in early January.
The storm knocked out power to thousands of customers, ripped the roofs
off 65 houses, and downed dozens of trees, forcing the closure of Kohala
Mountain Road on the Big Island.
While Hawaii is located in the tropics, it has a number of different climate
zones and varied weather. The mountains, which rise to 14,000 feet, significantly
affect airflow and create great variety in climate from island to island.
Some areas receive little rainfall and are relatively dry, while Hilo
is the wettest city in the region.
Torrential rains are common in Hawaii, except in the high mountains. Hawaii's
heaviest rains occur during winter storms between October and April. Hazardous
weather was blamed for five deaths and seven injuries in Hawaii in 2013,
according to the National Weather Service.
Driving in adverse weather conditions can include the following conditions
in Honolulu, HI:
Rain - About 75 percent of weather related auto accidents occur on wet roads
according to the Federal Highway Administration. Rain limits visibility,
reduces tire traction of pavement, and may obstruct lanes of traffic when
rainwater collects on the road. Standing water on pavement increases the
risk of hydroplaning.
Flash Floods - Heavy rain can create hazardous standing water on roads, flash flooding,
and flooded roadways. According to the National Weather Service, flash
floods are the leading cause of weather related deaths in the state of
Hawaii, exceeding deaths caused by high winds and cyclones. It's important
to avoid flooded roadways during flash floods.
High Winds - High winds are frequently overlooked as a driving danger that can cause
accidents. Strong gusts can push a car outside its lane. They can also
break tree limbs and topple trees. Falling trees and limbs are a serious
danger during high winds. The strongest winds are often where they accelerate
on down sloping terrain on the islands and can make steering a car difficult
Limited Visibility - Dense fog caused by moist air rising upward and encountering cold air
can create dangerous driving conditions, particularly on mountain roads
in Hawaii. Fog reduces the ability of drivers to see and can lead to rear
end collisions when motorists slow down unexpectedly.
High Surf Conditions - High surf is the number one weather related cause of fatal accidents.
Tips for Driving During Adverse Weather
It's best to stay off the road if you can avoid it. It certainly safer
to stay indoors during hazardous weather conditions. If you get caught
in a storm, here are some tips:
- Slow down and allow more room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.
- Drive in tracks of vehicle ahead. Driving on wet roads -particularly roads
with standing water-can cause a vehicle to hydroplane and spin out of control.
- Allow more distance to stop. It takes longer to come to a stop on slick roads.
- Don't use cruise control. Avoiding cruise control will give you more
options to respond to a potential loss of traction by simply lifting your
foot off the accelerator.
- Watch for objects blowing across the road and for downed power lines. If
a line falls on your vehicle, stay inside your car. Be careful not to
touch any part of the metal frame of the vehicle.
- Make your vehicle more visible by putting on your headlights.
- Replace worn windshield wipers. Inspect your wipers regularly and replace
them when they are leaving streaks or no longer clearing the windshield
in a single swipe.
If you are injured in a weather related accident caused by another driver,
talk to a
car accident lawyer about your legal options to receive compensation from the at fault driver's