Report Title:

Mobile Phones; Safety

 

 

Description:

Prohibits the use of a mobile telephone while driving unless equipped with a hands-free accessory and being used in the hands-free mode. Exempts mobile radios. Prohibits transit drivers from using cellular phones whenever their vehicle is in motion.

 


HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

H.B. NO.

143

TWENTY-FIFTH LEGISLATURE, 2009

 

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

 

A BILL FOR AN ACT


 

 

Relating to the use of mobile phones and electronic devices while driving.

 

 

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

 


SECTION 1. The legislature finds that over the span of a decade, the cellular phone has gone from novelty to convenience to a fixture of modern life. It is difficult to travel the state and not meet someone who is using or carrying a cellular phone. A great part of the allure of mobile phones, particularly cellular phones, is the convenience of using a phone nearly anywhere, including while driving.

The legislature also finds that driving with two hands on the steering wheel and full attention to traffic and road conditions increases driving safety. Mobile phone usage while driving reduces driving safety due to the need to use at least one hand to program the phone to make a call, receive a call, or any number of things. The legislature further finds that as a result of the safety hazard posed by mobile phone use when driving, mobile phone manufacturers have started to produce devices that allow drivers to use their mobile phones without the use of their hands. These "hands-free" devices have obviated the present need to legislatively ban the use of mobile phones while driving.

The purpose of this Act is to prohibit the use of a mobile phone or other electronic device while operating a motor vehicle except when a mobile phone is equipped with a hands-free accessory and used in the hands-free mode.

SECTION 2. Chapter 291C, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"291C- Mobile telephone and electronic device use; prohibited. (a) No driver shall use a mobile telephone or other electronic device while operating a moving motor vehicle in the state. A mobile telephone may be used while operating a motor vehicle if it is equipped with a hands-free accessory and the mobile telephone is being used in the hands-free mode.

(b) No person shall use a mobile telephone, including those with hands-free accessories, or other electronic device while operating a moving school bus that is carrying passengers.

(c) No person shall use a mobile telephone, including those with hands-free accessories, or other electronic device while operating a moving transit vehicle.

(d) It shall be an affirmative defense to an alleged violation of this section that the person was using a mobile telephone:

(1) For the purpose of reporting a medical or safety

emergency or to obtain assistance for a medical or

safety emergency; or

(2) In the scope of the person's duties as law enforcement

or emergency personnel, as a driver of an authorized

emergency vehicle, or as a licensed operator

of a commercial vehicle.

(e) Violation of this section is a violation subject to a fine of not more than $100.

(f) Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, no county shall enact an ordinance or adopt a rule regulating the use of a mobile telephone or other electronic device by an operator of a motor vehicle that is inconsistent with or more restrictive than the provisions of this section. Any county ordinance or rule that is inconsistent with or more restrictive than the provisions of this section shall be void.

(g) Enforcement of this section by law enforcement personnel may be accomplished only as a secondary action when a driver of a motor vehicle has been detained for a suspected violation of another traffic infraction.

(h) For the purposes of this section:

"Commercial vehicle" means a vehicle registered to a business that has a gross vehicle weight rating of ten thousand and one pounds or more.

"Electronic device" means handheld electronic video games, music players, personal digital assistants, or any other device requiring the use of a battery and at least one hand to operate the device.

"Hands-free accessory" means an attachment, add-on, built-in feature, or addition to a mobile telephone, whether or not permanently installed in a motor vehicle, that when used, allows the driver to maintain both hands on the steering wheel.

"Mobile telephone" means a cellular, analog, satellite, wireless, or digital telephone capable of sending or receiving telephone messages without an access line for service.

"Transit vehicle" means every motor vehicle designed to carry more than ten passengers, other than a school bus or taxicab, and used for the transportation of persons for compensation."

SECTION 3. This Act does not affect rights and duties that matured, penalties that were incurred, and proceedings that were begun, before its effective date.

SECTION 4. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 5. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2009.

 

INTRODUCED BY:

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