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The Impact of Distracted Driving in Hawaii

April 12, 2023

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, so reviewing this prevalent issue on our roadways is important. Of course, the increasing use of mobile phone usage while driving has exacerbated the problem of distracted driving, which is a top cause of accidents in the United States.

Needless to say, there has been a rise in drivers using their phones for things other than making and receiving calls, such as checking email, using map functionality, and interacting on social media. The apparent consequence is that drivers’ attention is distracted for longer periods, leading to a higher incidence of major injuries and deaths caused by traffic accidents.

A greater proportion of inattentive or distracted drivers are now on the road. But there are still drivers out there, especially among the younger generation, who think that using a phone while driving is perfectly safe.

Unfortunately, the prevalent patterns in Hawaii are fairly indicative of the nation as a whole. Hawaii has one million registered automobiles, resulting in around 10,000 accidents annually. Tragically, these accidents continue to be the biggest source of injury and death throughout the nation and the islands, despite significant efforts to reduce their frequency and severity.

Auto Accident Rates on Hawaii’s Highways

The Impact of Distracted Driving in HawaiiThe state’s Department of Transportation estimates the yearly death toll in Hawaii from car accidents to be between 120 and 150 people. In Hawaii, speeding causes more accidents than any other factor, including distracted driving. Further contributing factors to these terrible wrecks include drivers not yielding, making unsafe lane changes, following too closely, and much more.

Furthermore, at least 80 to 90 people were killed in traffic accidents in Hawaii in 2017.

Adding insult to injury, speeding contributed to 42% of these accidents. Officials also noted that drivers between the ages of 18 and 25, those in their forties, and seniors aged 65 and older make up the three age groups most likely to be killed in a car crash in Hawaii.

Observing traffic laws may minimize the likelihood of being involved in an accident, but it still exists even if you’re careful.

Distracted Driving Laws in Hawaii

Anything that takes a driver’s focus away from the road, whether visually, mentally, or physically, is deemed a distraction by the Hawaii Department of Transportation.

Nearly anyone who keeps up with the news knows that distracted driving is a major issue throughout the United States, including in Hawaii. Distracted driving is responsible for around $40 billion in annual losses, which is almost as much as the $44 billion in losses caused by drunk driving.

Distracted driving is a factor in more than 3,000 deaths and over 400,000 injuries in the United States annually. Approximately 8.5% of fatal car accidents in the 48 contiguous states may be caused by drivers who were distracted.

Throughout our state, more than 14,500 fines for distracted driving were issued by Hawaii police in 2018. For Distracted Driving Awareness Month, officials recently compiled a list of the states ranked based on distracted driving data.

Per these findings, distracted driving is a leading cause of death in New Mexico, New Jersey, and Hawaii. It’s not only texting on a phone that counts as distracted driving; any activity that takes your focus off the road qualifies.

Distractions include reading, eating, applying cosmetics, and grabbing things in the seat next to you. Unsurprisingly, though, using a mobile device while driving is the most common distraction.

Hawaii’s distracted driving laws include strict restrictions on the use of electronic devices behind the wheel. While texting while driving is illegal, using a hands-free device is legal.

Underage drivers are also prohibited from using any kind of hands-free mobile electronic communication device. And in Honolulu, it is illegal for pedestrians to cross the street while gazing at their phones.

Exceptions to Hawaii Traffic Law

All of the restrictions on using electronic devices while driving come with caveats. For example, drivers can use their mobile phones to call 911. Similarly, in the event of an accident or other emergency, all drivers are permitted to carry a cell phone.

In a similar vein, firefighters, paramedics, intensive care unit technicians, and others in the emergency services industry who depend on these mobile devices may do so as necessary. For Title 47, Part 90 of the Code of Federal Regulations, “professional drivers” include those with commercial licenses or who operate corporate vehicles equipped with private land mobile radio systems.

Still, there are ways to reduce the likelihood of accidents caused by distracted drivers. The following are some precautions you may take to reduce the risk of an accident caused by distracted driving:

  • Several programs are available to prevent motorists from sending or receiving text messages while behind the wheel. These applications offer a wide variety of features, including the ability to automatically reply to incoming messages and block texts while driving at a certain speed.
  • If you’re on a group trip, someone of legal driving age should be designated as the navigator. If not, read your directions thoroughly and identify any chosen destinations before setting off on a solo trip.
  • Don’t stress about finding a station for music or adjusting the volume. Prepare your playlist ahead of time, or select your preferred radio stations as presets. After all, clicking a button is far easier than fiddling with a dial while you’re behind the wheel.
  • Last but not least, put down your phone and pay attention to the road. You may turn off your phone’s sound notifications if you need to avoid the temptation of responding.

Contact a Hawaii Personal Injury Attorney

Fortunately, Leavitt, Yamane & Soldner‘s personal injury lawyers assist Hawaii residents who have sustained serious injuries due to a car accident caused by another party’s carelessness.

Tragically, auto accidents are common in Hawaii because of the state’s considerable traffic, high rates of drunk driving, distracted driving, and excessive speeding. These incidents often cause terrible, long-lasting physical suffering, emotional misery, and enormous treatment, rehabilitation, and long-term care costs.

Thankfully, you have legal recourse during this tough time. Over the course of our many years in practice, we have represented a large number of wounded clients. Our Honolulu automobile accident attorneys are committed to fighting for your rights and ensuring that you get proper recompense for your injuries. Call us at 808-537-2525 if you’d like to meet with us for a no-obligation, no-fee initial consultation.

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