Maui Police to Enforce Distracted Driving Laws in April
By Wendy Osher
The Maui Police Department will be aggressively enforcing distracted driving violations as part of the national “U drive. U text. U pay.” campaign, which runs from April 10 to 15, 2014, department officials announced.
Police describe distracted driving as “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving,” including text messaging and using any handheld electronic mobile device while operating a motor vehicle.
Lieutenant Ricky Uedoi, who serves as traffic section commander of the department, said text messaging is the most common and most dangerous distraction because it requires, “visual, manual and cognitive attention from a driver.”
“We want to make our roads safe for everyone,” said Lt. Uedoi, who said motorists should not be using their phone for texting, checking emails, Facebook, or Twitter while driving or stopped in traffic.
“If you need to check for driving conditions or weather related updates, pull into a parking lot where it is safe and check your phone there, not in traffic or on the side of the road where you may pose a hazard to yourself or other motorists,” Uedoi said.
Maui police issued 198 citations so far this year, and 2,752 citations in 2013, for people using a hand held mobile electronic device while driving, according to data released by the department.
Nationwide, 3,328 people were killed, and an estimated 421,000 people were injured in crashes in 2012 involving a distracted driver, according to data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and detailed by Maui police.
“Police intend on changing the behavior of drivers whose habit of using a hand held device while driving is both dangerous and deadly,” said Chief Gary Yabuta in a statement.
Drivers that are issued a citation will be fined and ordered to appear in court.
The fines include the following: $100 to $200 for a first time violator; $200 to $300 for a second offense within one year; $300 to $500 for violations that occur within two years of two prior violations, and for the fourth and each subsequent violation, regardless of when committed. Each fine is in addition to court fees. Drivers cited within a school or construction zone will be required to pay double the aforementioned fine amount.
Lieutenant Uedoi suggested that “using a bluetooth or a headset is much cheaper than a citation,” since state law does allow for the use of hands-free devices while driving, provided the driver is 18 years of age or older.
The distracted driving law was signed by Governor Neil Abercrombie in July of last year. Prior to that, each county had enacted their own ordinance addressing distracted driving incidents.