Ban on use of cell phone while driving is home free


POSTED: Friday, May 08, 2009

Sixty-one-year-old Charlene Oyama said it aggravates her when she sees drivers talking on their cellular phone, but admits she is one of them.

;[Preview]  Drivers Are Banned From Using Cell Phones

Mayor Hanneman signed a law to ban the use of cellphones when driving starting in July.

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“;It drives me crazy, and yet I do the very same thing,”; said Oyama, of Makiki.






        A new law banning use of cellular phones without a hands-free device while operating a vehicle on Oahu will take effect on July 1. The following also will be prohibited:

» Text messaging


» Use of laptop computers


» E-mailing


» Playing electronic games


» Digital photographic devices




        » 911 emergency phone calls

» Vehicle's audio equipment


» Installed navigational equipment


» Video entertainment for back-seat passengers


Oyama purchased her first Bluetooth yesterday after she heard of a new law that will soon take effect banning the use of cellular phones for Oahu drivers without a hands-free device.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann signed Bill 4 into law yesterday, saying it will improve public safety on roadways and ensure that drivers remain focused. The new law will take effect July 1.

Emergency responders are exempted from the law. Also exempted are people who use two-way radios while performing work-related duties such as those used by public utility workers as well as drivers with a valid amateur radio operator license issued by the Federal Communications Commission and using a half-duplex two-way radio.

On April 24 the City Council voted 6-1 to approve the measure.

Violators will be subject to fines from $15 to $100 as determined by the Traffic Violations Bureau at District Court. The violation is considered a traffic infraction, Maj. Thomas Nitta of the Honolulu Police Department said yesterday at the bill-signing ceremony in the mayor's office.

Any type of cell phone handling while driving, including dialing, will not be allowed under the new law.

“;One of the dangerous aspects of utilizing a cellular phone is taking your eyes off the road to dial,”; said Nitta, adding that it triples a driver's risk of becoming involved in an accident.

Retail stores carry a variety of hands-free devices, with costs ranging from $7 to $200.

Bluetooth speakers that clip onto a vehicle's visors are also available for those who do not like devices attached to their ears. Those who might be concerned about radio frequencies relating to health issues may opt for headsets that plug into their cell phones.