Maui Issues 300 Citations Since Start of Cell Phone Driving Ban

January 5, 2011, 11:10 PM HST · Updated January 6, 2:07 PM
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By Wendy Osher

Maui Police issued nearly 300 citations to motorists under the state’s six-month-old law that bans cell phone use while driving. The bulk of violations, police say, occurred in the Wailuku/Kahului District.

Police Chief Gary Yabuta. File photo by Wendy Osher.

The topic was part of the discussion that surfaced during Wednesday night’s Town Hall Meeting hosted by Maui Police Chief Gary Yabuta and Deputy Chief Clayton Tom in Wailuku.  Department officials also fielded questions on traffic enforcement within school zones, speed enforcement within residential communities, and neighborhood crime prevention opportunities.

The final meeting in the seven-part series takes place Thursday, January 6, 2010 at 6 p.m. in West Maui at the Lahaina Intermediate School Cafeteria.

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More than 50 people attended the Wailuku meeting, similar to the turnout reported in Kula and on the island of Lanai, where participation was also strong.  That’s in contrast to the six people who showed up at the meeting in Kihei–a community once touted as having the fastest growing population in the state, and soon-to-be home of a $40 million state-of-the-art South Maui Police Station.

Cell Phone Driving Ban nets 300 Citations

In July 2010, Maui became the final county in the state to implement a cell phone driving ban. The measure makes it illegal to use a mobile electronic device or telephone while driving unless it is being used with a hands-free device.  Violators are fined $97 for a first time offense.

The department has applied for a grant to help in their efforts to curb distracted driving.  Lt. Michael Kahoohanohano said the extra funding, if secured, could enhance the cell phone driving law by allowing for additional hours dedicated to police efforts.

Maui police said community adjustment to the new law will take some time, and compared the transition to the adjustment and behavior modification the public was faced with when seat belt laws first went into effect.

Despite the 97.5% seatbelt compliance rate on Maui, police still issue around 2,500 seatbelt citations annually.

Traffic Enforcement within School Zones:

When the new Maui Lani intersection opened near Pomaikai Elementary School in June, Maui Police were called to assist with traffic control solutions.  The school ended up adjusting schedules, while traffic crossing guards suggested plans to protect children crossing the street.

Similar issues have also surfaced near Waihee Elementary School.  The Kahekili Highway “becomes a one-lane nightmare,” said one of the meeting participants.  The congestion is being attributed in part to a small school parking lot.  Traffic is compounded when motorists utilize the makai shoulder for access to drop-off and pick-up activities, in order to avoid entry into the congested lot.  Currently, there are no plans to place a crossing guard at the location.

Speed Enforcement Planned in the New Year:

Maui Police plan on conducting continued speed detail enforcement in the New Year.  Enforcement campaigns were carried out at major highways and problem areas last year.  Roadways monitored in the 2010 speed detail campaign included Mokulele, Honoapiilani and Haleakala Highways, as well as smaller roads like Eha Street in Wailuku.

One Wailuku resident urged police to monitor speed on Mill Street in Wailuku, saying passing motorists traveling at speeds averaging 40 mph, make exit from his driveway difficult and dangerous.

A total of 41 speeding citations were issued in the Central Maui District last year. Citations for other Highway and roadway safety citations in Central Maui included 2,314 parking violations; 49 seat belt citations; and 1,046 moving violations.

Central Maui Crime Statistics for Wailuku/Kahului Only (January 1, 2010 – November 30, 2010):

  • OUI: 311 violations
  • Total Number of Documented Cases: 8,383
  • Adults Arrested: 2,764
  • Crashes: 1,254
  • Calls for Service: 35,396
  • Calls reporting Property Crimes: 2,849
  • Calls reporting Crimes Against Persons: 585
  • Drug/Alcohol Offenses: 1,371
  • Calls for non-criminal incidents: 6,392

The MPD Town Hall series was first introduced by Chief Yabuta’s administration in 2009.  The meetings are designed to gather information from the public and work with individual communities to address challenges and concerns.

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