Ask the Mayor: Can Teens Use Hand-Free Devices While Driving?

June 13, 2016, 6:48 AM HST · Updated June 13, 6:53 AM
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File photo by Wendy Osher.

File photo by Wendy Osher.

Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the questions submitted to his office staff.

Submit your own questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa via email at [email protected], call 270-7855 or send them by mail to 200 S. High St., 9th Floor, Wailuku, HI 96793. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Mayor” column.

Dear Mayor,

Q: I have a teenager at home who will be getting her license soon, and I’m trying to impress upon her the importance of never texting and driving. Phone calls can also be a dangerous distraction, even with a Bluetooth device, so I’m wondering if teenagers are allowed to use hands-free devices while driving?

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Thanks for your column. There are always some interesting tidbits and updates that are helpful for us Maui residents.

A: I was interested to learn that drivers under the age of 18 are not allowed to use hands-free devices with their mobile phone when driving.

According to Hawai‘i Revised Statute §291C-137 Mobile Electronic Devices, (c) “No person under 18 years of age shall operate a motor vehicle while utilizing a hands-free mobile electronic device, except for the sole purpose of making a ‘911’ emergency communication.”

Sadly, a statistic from the Hawai‘i State Department of Health reveals that at least 10% of the auto deaths in the state are the result of distracted drivers. So the fact that all cell phone use, whether hand-held or hands-free, is prohibited for drivers under 18 is a good thing.

Adults also need to focus on the road, and the current penalties for offenses should be enough to deter anyone from texting or talking while driving: Fines are up to $200 for a first offense and $300 for a second offense in the same year. A third or fourth violation within two years can incur a fine of up to $500.

Important side note: According to the law, drivers who pull over to use their cell phone must be at a complete stop, with the engine turned off, in a safe location by the side of the road out of the way of traffic. Not doing so could lead to a ticket, even if you have pulled over to use your phone.

 

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