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U-turn on Pali Highway causes fatal car accident

Hawaii has some of the most picturesque scenery and beautiful sights of any state. And one of the most popular is the drive to the Pali, which is the site of a famous battle, which provides spectacular views of Honolulu and the Oahu coastline. But like many roads in the islands, the landscape may harbor dangerous curves and turnoffs.

A fatal car accident occurred on the Pali Highway immediately before the tunnels near the overlook. A flatbed tow truck was attempting to make a U-turn on the highway. The median in the highway is not very wide at this point and as the truck was apparently waiting for traffic to clear, a Toyota Yaris crashed into the rear of the tow truck.

The horrific accident tore the driver's side of the roof off the vehicle and killed the driver, who was reported to be in his 80s. A female passenger, his wife, suffered critical injuries and was taken to Queen's Medical Center.

An officer for the Honolulu Police Department suggested that the elderly driver of the Yaris might not have seen the back end of the tow truck protruding into the traffic lane. Flatbed tow trucks often have a portion of the bed that extends beyond the rear wheels of the truck.

When viewed at an angle, the flatbed could have been nearly invisible to the driver and the fact that the turn lane is located a short distance from the tunnel could further reduce the chances of a driver, whose eyes would need to adjust after emerging from the tunnel, of seeing a danger like this.

This accident demonstrates the varieties of factors that contribute car accidents: older drivers, unexpected hazards, narrow medians, tunnels and U-turns. Alcohol and speed, typical causes of many car accidents, were not present in this crash.

The police have recommended that U-turns be prohibited except for emergency vehicles. 

Source: KITV.com, "Honolulu man killed in fatal Pali Highway collision," Jill Kuramoto, January 10, 2014

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