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  • Defensive Driving in Hawaii

    Defensive Driving

    Defensive driving requires constantly assessing each approaching road situation (intersections, school zones, disabled vehicles) and planning how best to react, should something sudden occur. It also involves keeping your emotions in check; reacting with calm, rather than anger, after being stuck behind a distracted tourist who has set his rental car's cruise control to 7 mph.

    Defensive Driving Tips

    Driving in Rain

    Rain, Hawaii's lone weather wince, adds a dangerous element to driving, by limiting visibility and making roads slippery. When the clouds open, reduce your speed, especially during the first few minutes, when roads are at their slickest due to residual car oils on the pavement mixing with the rainfall.

    Hydroplaning also becomes a factor, starting at speeds of about 35 mph or faster. Should you sense your vehicle's tires have lost traction, ease off the gas pedal and try to maintain a straight direction. Apply the brakes only after your tires have regained traction.

    Driving in Fog

    Fog rarely blankets Hawaii's lower elevations, but is common in the mountains. Should you find yourself in a fog-bank, reduce speed and turn on your low beam lights. High beams are ineffective in fog. Instead of increasing a vision arc, high beams reflect back, hindering rather than aiding your situation.

    Should the fog become so thick that visibility is limited to less than about two car lengths ahead (about 40 feet), pull off to the side of the road, turn on the emergency lights and wait for the fog to subside.

    Curves

    Whenever you approach a curve, reduce your speed before entering. Braking while in a curve can lead to skidding. This is especially true on Hawaii's coastal roads, where drifting sands can add an unexpected slickness factor.

    Passing

    Always make sure to check your side and rearview mirrors before veering into another lane.

    When you do pass make sure you use your turn signals and that you have enough of a gap so that you're not forcing oncoming cars to swerve madly on to the shoulder. Never expect other cars to make amends for your poor judgment.

    And be sure to give the vehicle you are passing plenty of clearance. Prematurely edging back into the lane could cause the other vehicle to angle off the road, or worse, slam the brakes.

    Looking Ahead

    The sheer volume of gaping and gawking tourists on Hawaii's roadways can turn even a three-minute drive to the grocery store into a hellish nightmare of near-miss collisions. To combat this, always look at least 10 to 15 seconds ahead. When driving in the city, this generally equates to one city block, or about a quarter of a mile on rural routes.

    You should also be aware of the vehicles behind you by checking your mirrors at least once every five seconds.

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