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What Are the Laws on Distracted Driving in Hawaii?

February 22, 2023

Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of accidents in the United States, and a rise in mobile phone usage while driving is partly to blame. In addition to getting distracted by phone conversations, drivers increasingly use their cell phones to check email, check their mobile GPS for directions, and post to social networking sites while driving. Needless to say, this leads motorists to be distracted for extended periods of time.

This has led to a rise in the number of distracted drivers on the road. What’s worse, some individuals, particularly younger drivers, believe there is no danger in using mobile phones while driving.

In Hawaii, the trends largely mirror those seen nationally. Hawaii has an average of one million registered vehicles, and roughly 10,000 accidents occur annually. Consciousness and safety on the road are paramount, yet automotive accidents remain a leading source of injury and death on the islands and beyond.

Statistics on Car Accidents in Hawaii

According to the Hawaii Department of Transportation, there are an annual average of 120 to 150 fatal vehicle accidents in Hawaii. Other than distracted driving, speeding is a major cause of accidents in Hawaii. Other factors include failing to yield, driving in the wrong direction, following too closely, and inappropriate turns.

In Hawaii, 94 individuals perished in auto accidents in 2015. In addition, just over 35% of those incidents were alcohol-related. Meanwhile, 42% (approximately 40) of those were due to speeding.

Throughout Hawaii, 18 to 25-year-olds, 40 to 50-year-olds, and 65-plus-year-olds are the demographics most often killed in automobile accidents.

Although obeying traffic laws reduces your likelihood of being involved in a vehicle accident, there is always the risk of being involved in a collision due to the behavior of other motorists, unfortunately.

Distracted Driving Laws in Hawaii

What Are the Laws on Distracted Driving in Hawaii?The state of Hawaii defines a distraction in the context of distracted driving as anything that takes a driver’s eyes off the road (visual distraction), thoughts off the road (cognitive distraction), or hands off the wheel (manual distraction).

Most instances of distracted driving, despite their danger, are actually legal. In Hawaii, legislators are especially concerned with minimizing the number of accidents due to cell phone and general mobile electronic device usage while driving.

Clearly, you don’t need to watch the local news every night to realize that distracted driving is a problem in Hawaii and the United States. On a national basis, distracted driving costs over $40 billion per year, nearly as much as DUIs, which cost approximately $44 billion per year.

In 2017, about 400,000 individuals were wounded, and over 3,000 were killed in distracted driving accidents in the United States. Distracted driving accounts for around 8.5% of all fatal vehicle accidents in the United States. Moreover, in 2018 alone, police officers around Hawaii issued about 14,500 distracted driving penalties.

Current Hawaii law on distracted driving does include several prohibitions. For instance, the hands-free operation of cell phones is permitted, but texting while driving is not.

Furthermore, drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using any kind of hands-free mobile electronic communication device. In addition to these restrictions, pedestrians in Honolulu are expected to follow similar laws: crossing a roadway while looking at a mobile phone screen is prohibited.

Exceptions to Traffic Laws in Hawaii

There are exceptions to the distracted driving laws listed above. For instance, drivers under the age of 18 are permitted to use their mobile phones to dial 911. Similarly, the use of a portable device to contact emergency services is legal for all drivers.

Also excluded from the state’s distracted driving regulations are the following:

  • Emergency responders (firefighters, emergency medical technicians, mobile intensive care technicians, civil defense workers, police officers, and federal and state law enforcement officers) who are using a mobile device on the job.
  • Drivers using a two-way radio or private land mobile radio system, within the meaning of Title 47 Part 90 of the Code of Federal Regulations, who are operating fleet vehicles or have a commercial license.

How to Prevent Distracted Driving

There are a handful of simple techniques to avoid driving while distracted. Try implementing these distracted driving safety measures to improve your chances of avoiding an accident:

  • Utilize a text-blocking application: There are several applications that prevent texting while driving. These applications have various characteristics, ranging from blocking all incoming and outgoing messages when traveling at a specific pace to sending a message stating that you cannot answer an incoming text.
  • Have a passenger navigate for you: If you are driving with a passenger of the proper age, you should give them any GPS instructions or directions. Even a mildly competent navigator in the passenger seat is preferable to a driver trying to control navigation. Otherwise, take the time to read the directions if you drive alone before heading out.
  • Cut down on adjusting the radio: Create various playlists from which to choose before getting behind the wheel. Pull over or wait for a red light if you need to make a change. It’s also essential to set your radio presets to stations you already like. One button press is better than mindlessly turning the dial.
  • Don’t text and drive: This is huge, of course. Place your phone aside if you’re driving. The use of social media can wait. If those buzzes and alerts from your phone are irresistible, switch them off.
  • Don’t eat and drive: The hazards of eating while driving outweigh the benefits. Grab a snack before driving, or pull over to a safe place before eating.

Contact a Hawaii Auto Accident Lawyer

At Leavitt, Yamane & Soldner, our personal injury attorneys help Hawaii residents who have been severely harmed in a vehicle accident due to the negligence of others. As a result of excessive traffic, drunk driving, distracted driving, and speeding, auto accidents are widespread in Hawaii. These incidents often result in excruciating, long-lasting physical pain, mental suffering, and expensive medical expenditures for treatment, rehabilitation, and long-term care.

Over the course of our years in business, we have represented a multitude of injured clients. Our Honolulu car accident lawyers are dedicated to supporting our clients in their pursuit of justice and proper recompense. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at 808-537-2525 for a free consultation.

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