The U.S. is currently facing a car crash epidemic, and the number of fatal crashes is rising. Police were reporting increased levels of speeding and distracted driving. With its congested roads and busy tourist hubs, Hawaii is a dangerous place.
Let's take a close look at the accident statistics for the Aloha State. We'll also go over some important legal concepts for drivers involved in accidents.
With most of the population living on the eight main islands and the increased number of cars on the roads due to tourism, the risk of crashes has significantly risen.
During the first three months of 2022, traffic-related fatal accidents in Hawaii were up by 45%. Another worrying trend is the uptick in DUI cases.
In Honolulu County, fatal crashes were up 40% and out of these, a majority (80%) involved drunk driving.
Hawaii Car Accident Statistics
Data shows the factors contributing to this increase in crashes. Reckless driving seems to be a widespread issue. Statistics can give you a clear idea of the behaviors and areas to avoid.
Congestion is an ongoing issue. This is especially true on Oahu Island where many people commute to work.
Local governments invest in public transit. Honolulu has also added bike lanes. However, driving remains the most practical option for many Hawaiians.
It's not unusual to see people with a long commute. Some people drive between 40 minutes to an hour.
Commuting can take even longer during the busy tourist season. This is because congestion is a major issue near tourism hubs.
Dangerous Driving Behaviors and Most Common Types of Accidents
In 2021, police reported 94 fatal crashes on roads. Speeding, drunk driving, and distracted driving were among the most common causes.
Of these 94 fatal crashes, 32% involved cars, while 35% involved motorcycles, mopeds, and scooters.
Additionally, there were four bicyclist fatalities in 2021. Honolulu has invested in bicycle-friendly infrastructure. However, Hawaii only ranks 27th as a bicycle-friendly state.
Honolulu is building raised crosswalks to keep people safe. However, speeding and distracted driving still create a dangerous environment for pedestrians.
Drunk driving is also a major concern in the Aloha state. The good news is that numbers are down with 375 DUI arrests in May 2022. This is less than the 459 arrests for the same period last year. However, fatal crashes and serious accidents are up.
Police also describe speeding as one of the top causes of car accidents. It's a factor behind the 30% increase in fatal accidents reported in July 2022, which had 60 fatalities.
In addition, the average car is over 11 years old in Hawaii. Therefore, many cars don't have the latest safety features to prevent crashes. These features can also reduce the severity of injuries.
Important Legal Concepts and Rules Concerning Car Accidents in Hawaii
Accidents cost money. They can also have a devastating effect if a fatal accident or an injury occurs. Liability is often one of the first things to figure out.
Determining who is responsible when accidents occur ensures that victims receive fair compensation. It also holds at-fault drivers accountable.
The responsible individual or their insurer pays for medical bills and other costs. Let's take a close look at some important legal concepts, starting with the idea of negligence.
What is Ordinary Negligence?
Everyone has responsibilities toward others. We expect a basic level of respect and should also be careful.
Meeting this basic duty means we won't put others in danger, which requires you to follow some simple rules when behind the wheel.
For instance, drivers have to follow road signs, drive at a safe speed, and watch out for pedestrians. These rules are in place to keep everyone safe.
However, mistakes happen, and sometimes, these mistakes cause crashes. While the responsible driver doesn't intentionally commit a crime, they're still guilty of negligence.
Ordinary negligence describes a situation where a person fails to take a few precautions that could have kept others safe. It’s different from negligence per se, a situation where a person deliberately breaks the law.
For commercial drivers, the standard is high. Courts will often give steep punishments to commercial drivers. Therefore, commercial drivers have a duty of utmost care on roads.
What is Negligence Per Se?
Negligence per se is another important concept. With ordinary negligence, a defendant makes a mistake often due to inattention.
In negligence per se, a defendant breaks the law. It's a serious offense with severe punishment. It can even include imprisonment.
The victim also gets substantial compensation—additionally, the burden of proof switches to the defendant.
They have to show they didn't break the law. This is in contrast to other cases, where the victim has to offer proof that the other person was negligent.
A Hawaii car accident attorney can build a case to show a person was negligent per se. For instance, driving 30 mph over the speed limit is a misdemeanor in Hawaii. Since 48% of accidents in Hawaii involve speeding, they are a common example of negligence per se.
Hawaii also has laws against using phones while driving. If an accident involves a phone, negligence per se can apply.
Breach of Duty
Breach of duty is another important concept. Breach of duty refers to failing to perform an action a person is legally responsible for.
In an accident case, a Hawaii car accident attorney will often have to show how a person breached their duty of care by putting them in danger. Usually, this duty includes following the rules of the Hawaii Traffic Code.
It can also entail not leaving the accident scene and calling 911 if someone is hurt. A lawyer will also look at whether a person failed to perform their duty and, in case of failure, the extent to which they failed to do so.
For instance, did the defendant do something to put others in danger in a reckless driving case? In other cases, the defendant might simply have neglected to do something to prevent an accident. Breach of duty can be as simple as forgetting to use a turn signal.
Cause & Damages
After proving that a breach of duty has happened, a Hawaii car accident attorney will look at its cause and the extent of the damage. Their goal is to prove that there is a connection between negligence and damage.
Establishing a cause is important. When negotiating with an insurance company or presenting a case in court, cause shows that a person is liable. An attorney can also show the extent of the damages. They can cause a person physical injuries, damage to their car, or lost wages.
A Hawaii car accident attorney will use evidence to show the cause. They could use the police report or medical records.
They could also use testimonies from witnesses who saw the accident. In some cases, they will get help from expert witnesses.
They will also rely on evidence to show the full extent of the damages. They could work with medical records to show the time of the physical injuries sustained or use a police report to establish the size of the damage to property caused. They can also show how a crash has reduced the quality of a victim’s life and led to long-term consequences.
In some cases, things can be more complex. For instance, whiplash and concussion symptoms can appear days after an accident. Mental anguish lost wages, and other types of damage could be more difficult to prove.
Collateral Source Rule
The collateral source rule prevents a person's damages from being reduced because of payments received from another source.
There are legal precedents for this type of windfall in Hawaii. This rule protects victims. Defendants still have to pay the full amount even if an insurer pays for some of the costs.
The victim can still receive money even after an insurance claim. This rule ensures that they receive money regardless of how much the insurer has paid. If an excess is received above the cost of damage, the victim may get a windfall.
Dram Shop Law
In Hawaii, dram shops can be responsible for crashes. Dram shops are commercial establishments such as bars, taverns, and other places serving alcohol.
These places ad the employees must to follow some rules before selling or serving alcohol. For example, they can’t serve minors, a person that is already intoxicated or known to have an addiction to alcohol. Serving alcohol for consumption in a vehicle is also prohibited.
Under dram shop laws, a bar can be held liable for an accident if it breaks these rules. This is a situation where a Hawaii car accident attorney can make a difference in helping you navigate the case if these rules apply.
In some cases, a person is clearly responsible for an accident. If the other party is completely innocent, it's a straightforward case where one person pays damages to the other.
However, shared blame is common. More than one driver can make a mistake. Drivers in accidents with more than two vehicles often share responsibility.
Hawaii uses the comparative negligence rule. It affects who can receive money and how much they can get.
An insurance adjuster or court will determine how people share responsibility. They will assign a percentage. This number represents the share of the blame.
If a party is less than 51% responsible, they can get compensation. However, they will likely get a relatively small amount.
For instance, a driver can be 85% responsible, while the other person is 15% responsible. In such a case, the first person won't get anything. However, the second driver will get money for the damages minus 15%.
This smaller amount reflects the second driver's share of the blame. Some accidents involve more than two people. In such situations, a person can get money from a driver with a higher share of the blame.
For instance, let's say person A shares 20% of the blame while persons B and C share 45% and 35%, respectively. In such a case, A can get money from B and C.
B won't get anything since no one else has a lower share than them. Furthermore, C can get money from B but not A.
Car Accidents in Hawaii’s Top Five Cities
Some cities are more dangerous than others. Whether you live in Hawaii or plan on visiting it, being aware of the most dangerous spots will help you stay safe.
Honolulu is the largest city in Hawaii and has more than 350,000 people. It's also the city with the most car accidents.
In 2021, police reported 50 fatal crashes in Honolulu City and County. This number includes nine fatalities in car accidents. There were also 19 pedestrian and 19 motorcycle and moped fatalities.
Dangerous driving practices are a major factor in these crashes. Honolulu is one of the top cities with regard to speeding tickets. Drunk driving is another major issue, with police arresting as many as 18 drunk drivers in one night. Honolulu police made over 2,500 DUI arrests last year.
Reckless behaviors aren’t the only issue. The city uses a grid layout, which results in several intersections that can be challenging to navigate during peak traffic hours. Plus, some of the island’s major expressways, including the Lunalilo Freeway or Pali Highway, go through the city.
Honolulu is also a major economic center for the state, which means workers commuting to work create congestion on a daily basis.
Pearl City and Waipahu
Pearl City is only 12 miles away from Honolulu. The statistics for Honolulu City and County also include Pearl City.
On average, Pearl City sees between two and five road losses each year. Queen Liliuokalani Freeway is a particularly dangerous area, especially the Pearl City off-ramp that saw a tragic crash with five people injured earlier this year.
Waipahu is a small city two miles to the east of Pearl City. It's another dangerous spot, especially with Queen Liliuokalani Freeway going through it.
Located in Hawaii County, Hilo had a total of 14 fatal accidents in 2021. Police also reported two dead pedestrians. Moreover, there were nine fatal accidents involving motorcycles and mopeds.
A deadly crash involving multiple vehicles on Mmalahoa Highway revealed that speeding seems to be an issue in the area.
Kahului is the largest city on Maui Island. It's also the most dangerous one.
In 2021, Maui County saw seven fatal accidents. There were also four fatal crashes involving pedestrians. Additionally, police reported four motorcycle fatalities.
Between January and April 2022, police reported nine fatalities on Maui Island. Law enforcement has revealed that three of these crashes involved motorcycle or moped drivers not wearing helmets.
Alcohol or drugs played a role in five of these crashes, while speeding was a factor in six.
Kapa'a is on Kauai Island. Kauai County is sparsely populated. There was only one fatal car and motorcycle accident in 2021 out of five reported crashes.
In 2022, a deadly crash happened on Kuamo’o Road in Wailua, not far south of Kapa’a. It involved a truck rolling over after colliding with an embankment.
Police also reported a non-fatal crash on Olohena Road in Kapa’a. This accident involved a tourist losing control of a rented scooter. This incident reveals that the common practice of renting mopeds and scooters sometimes puts tourists at risk due to their lack of experience with riding.
Get Help from an Experienced Hawaii Car Accident Attorney
The nationwide increase in crashes hasn't spared the Aloha State. We're seeing disturbing trends like high levels of speeding, distracted driving, and DUIs.
Local officials are taking steps to make roads safer. They're also increasing police presence on roads. While these efforts positively impact drivers and pedestrians, they should remain cautious.
If you're involved in a car crash, seeking help from a Hawaii car accident attorney should be a priority. A lawyer could make a difference when negotiating with insurance companies.
They can also help build a strong case based on evidence. Moreover, they'll make sure you get fair compensation.
Were you involved in a car accident? Accident.com can put you in touch with an experienced lawyer from our network.