Road Rules

Slow, courteous driving is the rule on the Big Island. Generally speaking, locals don't honk (except in an emergency) or tailgate, and they let other drivers pass and merge. Do the same and you might receive an appreciative shaka (local-style hand wave) from other drivers.

  • Drive on the right-hand side of the road.
  • Talking or texting on handheld devices (eg cell phones) while driving is illegal.
  • Driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher or when impaired by drugs (even if legally prescribed) is illegal.
  • It's illegal to carry open containers of alcohol (even if they're empty) inside a vehicle; unless they're full and still sealed, store them in the trunk.
  • Seat belts are required for drivers, front-seat passengers and anyone aged under 18 years.
  • Child safety seats are required for children aged three and under. Those aged four to seven must sit in a booster seat unless they are over 4ft 9in tall, in which case they must use a lap-only seat belt in the back seat.
  • Speed limits are posted and enforced.
  • Turning right at a red light is permitted unless a sign prohibits it, but local drivers often wait for the green light.
  • At four-way stop signs, cars proceed in order of arrival. If two cars arrive simultaneously, the one on the right has the right of way. When in doubt, let others go first.
  • When emergency vehicles (ie police, fire or ambulance) approach from either direction, carefully pull over to the side of the road.