Maui News

Governor Explains Purpose of New Traffic Safety Laws

May 20, 2013, 1:43 PM HST
* Updated May 20, 2:57 PM
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Click It or Ticket proclamation. Courtesy photo Office of the Governor.

Click It or Ticket proclamation. Courtesy photo Office of the Governor.

By Maui Now Staff

Governor Neil Abercrombie signed two traffic safety measures into law today that are aimed at saving lives and reducing serious injuries from motor vehicle crashes.

Upon enacting the new traffic safety measures during a bill signing ceremony this morning, Gov. Neil Abercrombie released details in a press release saying,  “Hawaii is putting safety first on our roadways with the enactment of our state’s universal seat belt law; this measure closes the gap in protecting all passengers riding in a motor vehicle.”

Abercrombie continued saying, “The enactment of Hawaii’s distracted driving law establishes consistency across the state for the usage of mobile electronic devices while driving, simplifying enforcement and likewise making our highways and roadways safer.”

Gov. Neil Abercrombie signing HB980. Courtesy photo Office of the Governor.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie signing HB980. Courtesy photo Office of the Governor.

Senate Bill 4, relating to Motor Vehicles requires all front seat and back seat occupants to wear a seat belt or child restraint. The law becomes effective immediately.

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The governor’s office released data provided by the Department of Health and Emergency Medical Service records saying, “Unrestrained back seat passengers were more than three times as likely to have injuries that were fatal or required hospitalization compared to restrained back seat passengers.”

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Additionally, among back seat passengers who were treated for injuries by EMS, the data reportedly reveals that on average, medical charges were nearly tripled among those who did not use seat belts ($11,043), compared to restrained passengers ($3,817).

State Health Director Loretta Fuddy said she anticipates seeing a further reduction in injuries and death with the passage of this new law.

The other bill that was signed into law today was HB980 that effectively streamlines requirements across all counties banning the use of mobile electronic devices while driving.

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The measure becomes effective on July 1, 2013, and is expected to simplify enforcement efforts.

Crash data from the DOT that was released by the governor’s office shows that during 2007, 32% or 2,871 of 8,770 collisions were attributed to inattentive driving.

State DOT Director Glenn Okimoto said the goal of the measure is to “help drivers understand that texting, cell phone use, and other distractions behind the wheel can have dangerous consequences.”

The bill signings were held in conjunction with the state’s launch of the annual “Click It or Ticket” seat belt enforcement campaign that begins today and runs through June 2, 2013.

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