Like many other cities across the nation, Maui has been plagued by an influx of distracted driving violations. The Maui Police Department has already issued nearly 200 citations this year to people using a hand-held mobile electronic device while driving. In 2013, Maui police issued a record 2,752 citations. The issue has caused Maui officers to aggressively crack down on distracted drivers to avoid car accidents that result in serious injuries or death.
Those are the words of Lieutenant Ricky Uedoi, who serves as the Traffic Section Commander of the Maui Police Department. In a recent statement to Mauinow.com, he told Maui drivers:
If you need to check for driving conditions or weather related updates, pull into a parking lot where it is safe and check your phone there, not in traffic or on the side of the road where you may pose a hazard to yourself or other motorists.
Although that would seem to be common sense, the truth is that many drivers simply continue to engage in distracted driving behavior – which statistics confirm. Maui Police report that they issued 2,752 citations in 2013 to people using a hand-held mobile electronic device while driving and nearly 200 in the first three months of 2014.
National statistics reflect the same dangerous behavior. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,328 people were killed and an estimated 421,000 people were injured in crashes in 2012 involving a distracted driver.
The Maui Police Department began aggressively enforcing distracted driving violations as part of the national U Drive, U Text, U Pay campaign and through new distracted driving laws that were signed by Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie in July of last year. Under the new laws, drivers who are issued a citation will be fined and ordered to appear in court. The fines are:
Each fine is in addition to court fees, and drivers cited within a school or construction zone will be required to pay double the aforementioned fine amount. Police define distracted driving as:
any activity that could divert a person’s attention from the primary task of driving, which includes text messaging and using any handheld electronic mobile device while operating a motor vehicle.
Police and legislators hope that increasing fines and penalties will reduce the number of Hawaii distracted driving accidents in the future. However, many say that a cultural change must occur first and that drivers must better understand that any activity that decreases their cognitive skills while driving can result in serious car accidents, costly medical bills and death.
Motorists who violate Hawaii’s distracted driving laws may be presumed negligent. That means a crash victim seeking compensation would not have to prove that the other driver was careless. If an accident victim can prove that the crash was a direct result of the violation, the victim may be entitled to compensation for losses such as medical bills, lost income, physical and emotional pain and suffering, rehabilitation and more.
If you’ve been the victim of a distracted driver, contact an experienced Hawaii car accident lawyer to analyze your situation and determine your legal options so that you have the information you need to decide what’s best for you and your family.