I have a growing collection of wreck photographs, to which I added another this week. What is it about the local roads that causes this?
Many of the wreck photos in my collection came from the old saddle road. That road was truly dangerous, I did not even photograph every wreck I encountered. Not so much anymore, the rebuilt road is much safer. there are still wrecks, just not nearly as often. It is usually tired or drunk drivers running through the guardrail at the end of the road. That has happened four times now.
The latest wreck on Waikoloa Road seems to have been a single vehicle affair, encountered while returning from work. Best guess is that the driver put a couple wheels on the gravel shoulder for some reason, from there they lost control and flipped the vehicle. There was gravel all over the road just above the accident site.
Aside from the old Saddle Road, island roads are just not that bad. In comparison to the winding country roads I grew up on these should be much safer. Yet the accident count seems much higher in proportion to the cars on the road. It is also not that unusual to witness some really bad driving.
Checking the data shows Hawaiʻi is not the worst state. The traffic fatality rate is right in the middle for the states, about 1.01 deaths per 100 million miles driven for 2013. Data for Hawaiʻi County would be interesting to compare, a different situation than the other islands with our more rural nature. Hawaii is noted to have the largest proportion of single vehicle wrecks in the same set of data.
This morning there is news of three more fatalities, a fiery crash down in Kona that closed the Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway all morning. A reminder to be careful on the local roads.