Many truckers wonder what the trucking lifestyle is like in Hawaii. Truthfully, it isn’t completely different from trucking in the rest of the US. However, there are some unique challenges (and benefits) to being a truck driver on the islands. Here are some of the few challenges Hawaiian truckers face that they don’t elsewhere.
Lots of imports and few drivers
Hawaii is a beautiful place with lots to offer, but it does not have the capacity to sustain a modern lifestyle for most people. Therefore, Hawaii relies heavily on imports. About 80% of the food consumed on the islands is imported. So, the demand for freight hauling on the islands is high.
Beyond the low road capacity, there is another problem facing the trucking industry: there are not very many drivers. Because of the challenges of getting the proper experience, many drivers leave the islands to get experience on the mainland. This creates a disincentive for drivers to get into the industry, as they need to go through extra hurdles to break into it. Hawaii is trying to shore up its driver shortage by opening new accredited training facilities, but the state still has a ways to go.
No interstates, short highways, and narrow roads
The most obvious difference between mainland trucking and Hawaii trucking is the distance traveled. The longest state highway, H-1 on Oahu, is just 27 miles long. All in all, the entire state system spans just under 1,000 miles. You might think that this would mean lots of small, quick trips, but the low highway capacity can cause horrible congestion. Because of this, Hawaiian truck drivers often sit in horrible traffic, especially when an accident occurs. And, once they get off the highway, the other roads and alleys on the islands are notoriously narrow. Hawaii limits the size of trucks that can operate in Hawaii, but the compact maneuvers still make it a difficult place for trucking.
Loading docks and infrastructure
The infrastructure problems extend beyond just the state’s roads. Even once drivers arrive at their destinations, it can be tough to unload their cargo. That’s because many stores and warehouses on the islands do not have the kinds of loading docks that mainland truckers are used to. Because Hawaii’s infrastructure relies on tourism and hospitality, concerns like loading docks take second place to those concerns. Therefore, drivers often have to manually load and unload their cargo, sometimes on the side of the road. These are concerns that mainland truckers almost never face.
All in all, trucking in Hawaii has some clear challenges that drivers wouldn’t face anywhere else. However, the benefits of breaking into the industry are plentiful. From shorter hauls to the lovely weather, it’s no wonder why many still take on the challenges Hawaii truckers face.