It was one of the more preposterous suggestions by a Hawaii lawmaker — right up there with the one some years back proposing that government workers be given mid-day napping time.

This one from State Sen. Kurt Favella, Republican of Ewa Beach & Iroquois Point. Maybe fatal crashes like last Thursday’s smash-up on Fort Weaver Road could at least be reduced if we had a raceway for speedsters.

“The bottom line is that we need an outlet for the racers,” he told the Star-Advertiser. A raceway, he said, could provide younger drivers with an opportunity to learn more about their powerful vehicles and how to handle them.

Sounds to me like a training school on how to drive faster — it would be a raceway after all — than a way to prevent something like last week’s incident in which the 21-year-old driver (not racing) hit a utility pole and then an oncoming car.

We don’t speed on roadways because we don’t have a raceway. When Leon James, professor of psychology at the University of Hawaii and co-author of the book Road Rage and Aggressive Driving, was asked about that on an NPR program his answer was “We are taught to speed by our culture. In other words, speeding is a habit so it’s about the way we usually feel ourselves. In other words, we’re always trying to do something as fast as we can.

“People don’t consider that unsafe. Most people take risks when they are driving and this is true of any activity. So the risks we are taking tend to be very consistent. It depends slightly on the situation, but when we’re in a hurry and we decide that it’s safe to break the speed limit by 20 then we go ahead and do it.

“Some drivers take a larger risk and some drivers, a smaller risk. But under certain conditions, all drivers will take certain risks.”

To which I’d add: even with a raceway.

One of my observations as a driver is that I seem to see more speeders on Oahu freeways since the Covid shutdowns. If I’m doing 50, I’m being passed by most cars doing 65-70. I don’t know if it’s because the freeways have been more empty or that drivers sense the police are busy with other things.

Police truck suv vehicle with flashing red and blue lights has pulled over a sports car for speeding and they happen to be on the side of the road by a speed limit sign.

The latter seems evident if you also notice the number of mopeds these days with no license plate or no safety sticker, or the absence of both. Obviously, enforcement is lax on some levels.

And lastly, this observation from Prof. James:

“Is driving in a pack 15 miles over the speed limit where everybody else is doing it, is that unsafe? There are lots of studies on the Web by transportation engineers to show that if the person who goes much faster or much slower than this pack, they create a traffic safety hazard, but not the people who are breaking the speed limit and traveling in a pack.”

                  —-30—-

Published by Bob Jones

Journalist since age 19. St. Petersburg Times, Noticias y Viajes in Madrid, Overseas Weekly in Frankfurt and Paris, the Louisville Courier- Journal, the Honolulu Advertiser, KGMB-TV, NBC News foreign correspondent in Africa and Southeast Asia, and MidWeek columnist. LL.B LaSalle University Law. 3 years in the U.S. Air Force. Covered: Biafran War in Nigeria (1968) Vietnam War (1969-73), Iraq in 1991. George Foster Peabody Award for distinguished journalism for reporting in China. 2 Emmys for documentaries. Married to journalist Denby Fawcett; one daughter. Brett Jones, foreign service officer, State Department.

5 replies on “It’s Not About The Raceway, Senator”

  1. You may be off the mark on this one. There is an absolute coalition between racing and accidents. It is not known whether this case was one of those but there is lots of to where I live and lots of exhibition of speed, illegal drag races going on Oahu. Cities throughout the world employ drag racing programs to give young people an outlet. Hilo does and Oahu did at one point. You may have started off wrong looking at aggressive driving and road rage…or it’s generational

    1. Gee — maybe we need a moped race track, too!

      A 36-year-old woman was critically injured in a moped crash in Kaimuki Tuesday evening.

      The crash occurred around 7 p.m. at the intersection of Harding and 8th avenues, according to Emergency Medical Services. The woman struck a wooden utility pole and was thrown from her moped.

  2. A casual observation: The High Occupancy Vehicle lane on westbound H-1 is in effect until 7 pm on weekdays per posted signage. But if you drive Waianae-bound anywhere west of the airport at 6 pm, numerous vehicles carrying a single occupant will speed by in the HOV lane risking a $200 fine for the HOV violation as well as a speeding ticket, even when traffic is very light and flowing freely. You are very unlikely to see any sign of police enforcement. These blatant violations occur at a rate that often exceeds three per minute, as many drivers seem to have no concern whatsoever about enforcement, much less freeway safety.

  3. I had student who was killed in a single car crash. A Dean came to inform me and confided unofficially that the student had been depressed. The police and family were fairly certain it was suicide. Evidently a certain percentage of single-car accidents may be cases of suicide.

  4. During my sporadic driving as well as my more regular walking, I’ve also been seeing a much higher number of cars with expired safety checks.

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