Hawaii should restrict driving with cellphones
California and Washington has joined four other states that ban the use of hand-held cellular phones while driving.
CALIFORNIA and Washington this month became the fifth and sixth states to ban the use of hand-held cellular phones while driving. Hawaii should follow in the next legislative session by enacting a similar law as a first step toward banning use of all cell phones while behind the wheel.
Most motorists are cognizant of the danger, having seen other drivers seeming to be in another world while in traffic. The bans limited to hand-held cell phones are based on the wrong assumption that talking on the phone is a physical rather than mental distraction.
Still, such a ban would be an improvement. New York became the first state to adopt such a law seven years ago, followed by Connecticut, New Jersey, Utah and the District of Columbia. More than 40 countries, including virtually all of western Europe, have similar laws.
The California law, enacted a year and a half ago, allows drivers 18 and older to use a hands-free phone, limiting hand-held phones for use during a medical or traffic emergency. Text-messaging can result in citations for negligence under existing laws. Drivers under age 18 are barred from using hands-free phones, pagers, laptop computers or other electronic communication or mobile-service devices.
The response to the new law in California has been encouraging. Motorists reportedly have heeded the new ban. Dewey Oats, owner of two Los Angeles roadside stands selling phone accessories, reported this week selling 50 to 75 Bluetooth wireless headsets a day, as many of the $40 devices as he ordinarily sold in a year, as well as hundreds of cheaper, plug-in devices.
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