Hickam drivers lose cell-phone privileges
The Air Force has become the second military service in Hawaii to ban the use of cell phones by drivers -- this time on Hickam Air Force Base -- unless they are used with a hands-free device.
The restriction also extends off base if the driver is operating a government-owned vehicle. While on Hickam, cell phones can be used only if the vehicle is parked.
The policy, which was put into effect on Jan. 25, follows a more stringent Army policy enacted Nov. 7 by Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, commander of the 25th Infantry Division, whose jurisdiction includes Schofield Barracks, Tripler Army Medical Center and Fort Shafter. Mixon's order bans even the use of headsets or hands-free devices while driving on an Army post.
Military personnel, civilians, visitors and contractors who violate the Army policy may permanently lose the privilege of driving on any Army installation in Hawaii.
At Hickam, violators will be given a written warning until Feb. 28. After that, violators will lose their driving privileges for 30 days.
A spokeswoman for the Navy and the Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe said there has been no change governing use of cell phones by drivers at Peal Harbor or Marine Corps facilities here.
Drivers visiting the Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps facility have been allowed to make cell phone calls while driving if they are using a hands-free device. There are no restrictions at Pearl Harbor. A Pearl Harbor spokeswoman said the matter is still under review.
In implementing the policy on Air Force installations in Hawaii, Gen. Paul Hester, Pacific Air Forces commander, said, "One of the most important elements of the PACAF mission is the safety and welfare of our airmen and families.
"Use of cell phones impairs driving ability and masks or prevents recognition of emergency signals, alarms, announcements, the approach of vehicles and human speech."
Legislation similar to the Air Force and Marine Corps policy is being discussed at the state Legislature.
Last Nov. 4, a head-on crash on Kalanianaole Highway occurred when a man trying to text-message on his cell phone drifted into the oncoming lane, colliding with a pickup truck.
The Cellular News Web site said Connecticut, District of Columbia, New Jersey and New York are the only states that have a total ban. Ten other states -- Arizona, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia -- have enacted some sort of partial ban.