A proposal in the Hawaii House of Representatives would
require drivers to keep their hands off the phone.
The measure, sponsored by Rep. Joe Souki, D-Maalaea, would ban hand-held cell
phone use while driving. Talking on a phone equipped with a “hands-free” device
would still be permitted.
Under the bill, a driver caught using a hand-held phone
could face a fine up to $200. It would exempt emergency calls.
Currently, New York and New Jersey have the only statewide
laws restricting cell phone use in vehicles. Several states, however, are in
the process of addressing the issue.
But with cell-phone related incidents making up only a small
percentage of motor vehicle accidents, even government officials wonder why this
particular behavior was chosen for a law. Studies have shown that hands-free
and hand-held cell phones are equally
“We’ve evaluated and
come to the conclusion that hands-free use is just as risky or perhaps riskier
than hand-held phones because it’s the cognitive distraction that can
compromise driving” Rae Tyson, a spokesman for the National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration, told The New York Times.
Tyson said research
within his agency and outside, along with driving simulations, found that it
was the talking on a cell phone while driving that was distracting, and that
therefore cell phones should be used only in emergencies.
HB88 recently was
approved by the House Judiciary Committee and forwarded to the full House for