Marco's Blog

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Crawling on 19

2006-09-12 3 min read marco

For those of you who know, Hawaiian driving is a bit of a surreal experience. There are namely three kinds of drivers in Hawaii:

  1. Kama`aina, the locals; notable for a propensity to drive strictly speed limit
  2. Malihini, the newcomers; always pushing the pedal to the metal in a quest to cut off 1 minute from their circumnavigational record of the island
  3. An unnamed and unstereotyped group that drives slower than anyone would think possible.

{moszoomimglink:One of the highway bridges}Yesterday, I was driving on Highway 19 (Hilo to Honoka`a), when I suddenly hit the brakes for a driver of the third type.

I remember the surprise that caught me a year ago, when I discovered there were “Minimum Speed” signs on that very highway. I mean, in California, posted speed limits are typically read as minimum speed signs, too, so it quite doesn’t make a lot of sense to separate the two.

But on the island. I would drive what I call “moderated California speed” (5 miles above limit) and slow down for the occasional kama`aina (the 55 mph crowd). Once in a while there would be a giant semi truck that would slow us down to 40 mph, but how would that justify a minimum speed limit?

Well, last night I got my fill for the year. The RAV4 in front of me was driving about 45 mph when I reached it just after Pepe`ekeo, and whenever there would be oncoming traffic, it would slow down to 40 and less. This went on all the way to Ninole, six miles later, with speeds down to 30 mph at turns and with oncoming traffic.

It drove me nuts. It’s not the time you lose, you know, it’s the fact that you constantly have to stare in front of you and lose sight of the surroundings, which means you have less of a chance to react to traffic conditions. You could say: “Why didn’t you just slow down?” Well, the problem was that this car was not driving with constant speed, instead slowing down and speeding up (a little).

Which got me back to the old days in Italy, when we’d frequently drive behind a car that would slow down with oncoming traffic, and then speed again when there was nobody in front. To us, it looked like the idiot just didn’t want to let us pass. Instead, I now understand, the poor driver was just scared of oncoming traffic and became a road block out of fear.

The point? I am glad wisdom is finally catching up with me. I waited for six miles while the car was getting nervous because I was still behind, and then passed when it was safe to do so. I am starting to learn the wisdom of the kama`aina.

Hang loose, bro!