S.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 a driver's eyes off the road (visual distraction), mind off the road (cognitive distraction), or hands off the wheel (manual distraction).

The use of cellular phones or other mobile electronic devices 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 (sixteen 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 Global Positioning System receivers. In particular, the use of cellular phones for talking and texting while driving is more prevalent on our nation's roadways.

The National Safety Council reported that the Harvard Center of Risk Analysis concluded that cellular phone use contributes to an estimated six 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 eighty-one 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 (thirty-two per cent) were attributed to inattention to driving. The new surface transportation bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21ST Century Act (MAP-21) (Pub. L. 112-141), passed by Congress in 2012, authorizes $22,500,000 in federal fiscal year 2013 and $23,100,000 in federal fiscal year 2014 to be distributed to the states that have a distracted driver state law. Unfortunately, Hawaii is not eligible for this funding due to the absence of a distracted driving statue that prohibits the use of mobile electronic devices while driving.

The purpose of this Act is to prohibit the use of cellular phones and other mobile 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 a driver's eyes off the road, mind off the road, and hands off 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 a two-way radio or a Private Land Mobile Radio System as defined by title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations part 90, while in the performance and scope of their work-related duties and who are operating fleet vehicles or who possess a commercial vehicle license; or

(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, police officers, and federal and state law enforcement officers.

"Fleet vehicle" means any vehicle validly registered pursuant to section 286-53.5.

"Mobile electronic device" means any handheld or other portable electronic equipment capable of providing wireless 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 digital photographic device, but does not include any equipment installed in a motor vehicle for the purpose of providing audio, navigation, or 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 holding 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 violation, or any violation 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 a violation 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 a violation that occurs within two years of two prior violations of this section, and for the fourth and each additional violation 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 upon its approval.









Report Title:

Highway Safety; Use of Mobile Electronic Devices



Creates a new law prohibiting the use of mobile electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle within the State of Hawaii. Establishes penalties.




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