H.B. NO.



















SECTION 1. Distracted driving is a problem of national concern. The legislature finds that the task of driving requires the driver's full attention in focusing on the roadway and driving maneuvers. Any distraction that diverts the driver's attention from the primary tasks of maneuvering the vehicle and responding to critical events increases the risk of being involved in a motor vehicle crash. A distraction is anything that takes the driver's eyes off the road (visual distraction), the driver's mind off the road (cognitive distraction), or the driver's hands off the wheel (manual distraction). The use of electronic devices, such as cellular phones, during the task of driving risks harm to the driver and others in the vehicle or on the road. New research findings by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that nearly 6,000 (16 per cent of all fatal crashes) people died in 2008 in crashes involving a distracted or inattentive driver, and more than 500,000 were injured. A survey has shown that on any given day during 2008, more than 800,000 vehicles were driven by someone using a hand-held cellular phone. Federal researchers have observed drivers of all ages using a variety of hand-held devices while driving cellular phones, iPods, video games, Blackberrys, and GPS systems. In particular, cellular phones used for talking and texting are more prevalent on our nation's roadways. The Harvard Center of Risk Analysis reports that cellular phone use contributes to an estimated 6 per cent of all crashes. That equates to 636,000 crashes, 330,000 injuries, 12,000 serious injuries, and 2,600 deaths each year. The annual cost of crashes caused by cellular phone use is estimated at $43,000,000,000. The Wireless Association reports that there are more than 270,000,000 cellular phone subscribers and that 81 per cent of the public admitted to talking on a cellular phone while driving. In 2007, the Hawaii department of transportation showed that, of the 8,770 collisions that happened during that year, 2,871 (32 per cent) were attributed to inattention to driving. On September 8, 2009, the United States House of Representatives introduced H.R. 3535, Avoiding Life-Endangering and Reckless Texting by Drivers Act of 2009 (ALERT Drivers Act), which was referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. This bill would require states to enact a law prohibiting an operator of a moving motor vehicle from writing, sending, or reading a text message using a hand-held mobile cellular telephone and requires the imposition of graduated penalties each time this law is violated. The failure of any state to enact such a bill would require that the United States Secretary of Transportation withhold 25 per cent of the state's highway construction fund each year (that equates to $40,000,000 in Hawaii) until a law is passed. This law would be effective on October 1 of the second fiscal year beginning after the date of the promulgation of the regulations.

The purpose of this Act is to prohibit the use of mobile cellular phones or other electronic devices while operating a vehicle, with certain exceptions, and to specifically prohibit activities such as texting, instant messaging, gaming, and emailing, activities that take the driver's eyes off the road, mind off the road, and hands off of the wheel.

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 electronic devices. (a) No person shall operate a motor vehicle while using a mobile electronic device.

(b) The use of a mobile electronic device for the sole purpose of making a "911" emergency communication shall be an affirmative defense to this law.

(c) The following persons shall be exempt from the provisions of subsection (a):

(1) Emergency responders using a mobile electronic device while in the performance and scope of their official duties;

(2) Drivers using two-way radios while in the performance and scope of their work-related duties and who are operating fleet vehicles or who possess a commercial vehicle license; and

(3) Drivers holding a valid amateur radio operator license issued by the Federal Communications Commission and using a half-duplex two-way radio.

(d) As used in this section:

"Emergency responders" include firefighters, emergency medical technicians, mobile intensive care technicians, civil defense workers, and police officers, including federal and state law enforcement officers.

"Mobile electronic device" means any handheld or other portable electronic equipment capable of providing wireless audio, video, or data communications between two or more persons or of providing amusement, including but not limited to a cellular phone, text messaging device, paging device, personal digital assistant, laptop computer, video game, or any photographic device, but does not include any equipment installed in a motor vehicle for the purpose of providing audio, navigation, emergency assistance to the operator of the motor vehicle or video entertainment to the passengers in the rear seats of the motor vehicle.

"Operate" a motor vehicle means the same as is defined in section 291E-1.

"Use" or "using" means handholding a mobile electronic device while operating a motor vehicle.

(e) Every person who violates this section shall be subject to the following penalties:

(1) For a first infraction, or any infraction not preceded within one year by a prior violation of this section, a fine of not less than $100 and not more than $200;

(2) For an infraction that occurs within one year of a prior violation of this section, a fine of not less than $200 and not more than $300 and the suspension of the person's driver's license and privilege to operate a vehicle for a period of thirty days; and

(3) For an infraction that occurs within two years of two prior violations of this section, and for the fourth and each additional infraction of this section, regardless of when committed, a fine of not less than $300 and not more than $500 and the suspension of the person's driver's license and privilege to operate a vehicle for a period of ninety days.

(f) Any violation as provided in subsection (a) shall not be deemed to be a traffic infraction as defined by chapter 291D."

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, 2010.






By Request



Report Title:

Highway; Safety; Distracted Driving; Motor Vehicle



Create a new law for distracted driving for drivers who operate any mobile electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle on the highways within the State of Hawaii to further define the penalties for reckless drivers will be a deterrent and result in safer roadways.




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