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Hawaii passes statewide distracted driving law

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May 28, 2013

Hawaii

By Jennifer Springer

HONOLULU, Hawaii: Governor Neil Abercrombie signed into law House Bill 980, enacted as Act 74, effective July 1, 2013 and Senate Bill 4, enacted as Act 73, effective immediately.[1] The measures are two significant traffic safety bills that are intended to save lives and reduce serious injuries from motor vehicle crashes in Hawaii.[1]

Senate Bill 4, enacted as Act 73, requires all front seat and back seat occupants to buckle up.[1] While all counties in the state had some form of a distracted driving ordinance in place, House Bill 980 establishes a state law that creates consistent requirements across all counties for the use of mobile electronic devices while driving and thus simplifies enforcement.[1]

“Hawaii is putting safety first on our roadways with the enactment of our state’s universal seat belt law; this measure closes the gap in protecting all passengers riding in a motor vehicle,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “In addition, the enactment of Hawaii’s distracted driving law establishes consistency across the state for the usage of mobile electronic devices while driving, simplifying enforcement and likewise making our highways and roadways safer.”[1]

Hawaii became the 40th state to ban text messaging while driving under the new laws.[2] The fight against distracted driving began in earnest in the state in 2007, when smartphones with text message capabilities came into widespread use.[2] Though 40 states ban text messaging while driving, two of the largest states in the nation, Florida and Texas, fail to ban the practice.[2]

The bill signings were held in conjunction with the DOT’s launch of the annual Click It or Ticket enforcement campaign, a partnership between the state and counties with federal funding.[1] During the national Click It or Ticket mobilization from May 20 to June 2 and throughout the year, police statewide will be continuing strict enforcement of the state seat belt and child passenger restraint laws.[1][3]

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