AAA Hawaii reminds drives that the new distracted driver-mobile electronic device ban goes into effect on Monday, July 1, the first new texting ban law passed in 2013.
Forty-one states now prohibit texting for all drivers. Hawaii was the 40th state to pass such a law followed by Florida. Twenty-three states have adopted laws to prohibit texting since 2009. AAA launched a campaign to pass texting bans in all 50 states in 2009.
The distracted driving law (HB980) prohibits the use of cell phones and other mobile electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle and prohibits texting, instant messaging, gaming and e-mailing which take a driver’s eyes and mind off the road and hands off the steering wheel. The law also prohibits drivers under age 18 from operating a motor vehicle while using a hands-free mobile electronic device, except for 9-1-1 emergency calls. Hawaii is the 11th state to adopt a handheld ban and the 38th state to take action on distracted driving by novice drivers.
In 2007, the Hawaii Dept. of Transportation’s data showed that 8,770 collisions occurred and 2,871, or 32 percent, were attributed to inattention to driving. Recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) research shows that nationwide nearly 6,000 people died in 2008 in crashes involving a distracted or inattentive driver, which represents approximately 16 percent of fatal crashes. More than 500,000 people were injured in these collisions.
“AAA Hawaii wants to thank Legislature and Governor again for improving traffic safety by establishing a distracted driving statute since this measure will help reduce deaths and injuries related to crashes,” said AAA Hawaii General Manager Liane Sumida. “We appreciate their hard work to develop legislation that benefits the people of Hawaii in such a significant way.”
Nearly nine out of 10 Americans (86 percent) support laws against reading, typing or sending a text message or email while driving, while 95 percent consider it unacceptable to text or email while driving, according to a 2012 survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The same study shows that more than one in three drivers (35 percent) admitted to reading and more than one in four (27 percent) admitted to sending a text message or email while driving in the past month.
Traffic safety research shows the harmful impact of text messaging on driver performance. Drivers who art text messaging are six times more likely to crash than drivers not texting, according to a 2009 study by the University of Utah. A driver’s crash risk doubles when they look away from the road fro more than two or more seconds, according to a 2006 study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.
Drivers who violate the new law are subject to: for a first violation a fine up to $200, up to $300 for a second violation that occurs within one year and for violations that occur within two years and for the fourth and subsequent violations regardless of when committed, up to $500. Penalties double if the violation of the new law occurs in a school zone or construction area.
About AAA Hawaii
AAA Hawaii has served members since 1921. Today, AAA Hawaii provides services to its 137,000 members that include roadside assistance, maps, international and domestic travel planning and reservations; pedestrian and traffic safety programs; and auto, home and life insurance services. Information about these products and services is available on AAA Hawaii’s web site at www.hawaii.aaa.com.