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Distracted driving simulator emphasizes accident risks in Hawaii

Distracted driving simulator emphasizes accident risks in Hawaii

April 14, 2015

Distracted drivers are a serious hazard on Hawaii’s roads with county police across Hawaii issuing 11,000 citations last year for distracted driving.

Now, the Hawaii Department of Transportation is rolling out a driving simulator to demonstrate the dangers you face when you try to multi-task while behind the wheel, according to a KITV report.

You put on a pair of high tech video goggles connected to a computer and the car. The driving simulator takes participants through various situations that distracted drivers face, such as sending a text message and trying to deal with a pedestrian crossing their path simultaneously. It lets you experience first hand the real danger of risky behavior such as texting and driving.

During a recent demonstration as part of the start of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, former Miss Hawaii Crystal Lee didn’t fare well on the simulator, crashing more than once when it put her through the trials of distracted driving.

Senate Transportation Chairman Clarence Nishihara also tried out the simulator and said motorists who are cited for distracted driving should be required to use the simulator to see just how dangerous it is to drive while distracted.

The simulator will be used in school presentations and local safety fairs around the state this year to educate the public, particularly young drivers, about the hazards of distracted driving, according to the Hawaii Department of Transportation.

Ten percent of drivers under 20 are reported to be distracted when they crash, making them the largest proportion of drivers to be distracted. Meanwhile, motorists in their 20s account for more than a fourth of distracted drivers involved in fatal wrecks, reports.

Distracted driving is a national epidemic, according to, leading to car crashes that claimed the lives of 3,154 people in 2013 alone and injured 424,000 people, up from 421,000 in 2012.


Hawaii has a tough set of distracted driving laws, which are considered to be some of the most comprehensive in the country, regulating the use of all electronic devices while driving.

  • All motorists in Hawaii are prohibited from using hand-held cell phones, mp3 players, and electronic tablets, but adult drivers can use hands-free devices. Motorists can use hand-held phones only to make emergency calls. Drivers can be stopped and cited if law officers see them violating the prohibition.
  • Drivers 18 and younger are prohibited from all cell-phone use, including hand-held and hands-free devices, to talk or send text messages. Also a primary law, it prohibits novice drivers from playing video games and manipulating music devices while driving.
  • Text messaging is banned for motorists of every age. It is a primary law as well.
  • GPS devices and mobile apps used for navigation are allowed, even though experts consider them to be distractive as well.

DEFINING DISTRACTIONS says distracted driving is any activity that can pull a person’s attention away from the main task of driving, endangering the driver, passenger, pedestrians, and other motorists.

At any given time of day in America, some 660,000 motorists are using cell phones or electronic devices. That number has remained steady over the last five years even though tasks such as reaching for a phone, dialing, and texting raise the risk of crashing by three times, according to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

It takes an average of five seconds to type and send a text, taking a driver’s eyes away from the roadway long enough to travel 100 yards. That’s a long way to go without looking where you’re traveling.

Yet about 25 percent of teens admit to responding to a text message one or more times each time they drive. And 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of older drivers say they have multi-text conversations while behind the wheel.

Accident attorney John Yamane recently discussed the danger of talking on a cell phone while driving with KHON television and how a personal injury attorney can investigate whether a driver was distracted at the time of an accident.

In the midst of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, we encourage people to take the Hawaii Department of Transportation driving simulation test to find out just what sort of danger they are creating every time they take and send a text message.

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