Hawaii Lays Down Law on Texting While Driving

By Matt Schmitz  on May 28, 2013

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Hawaii is requiring motorists to say "aloha" — in the greeting's "good-bye" form — to texting while driving. The state became the 40th to ban the distracting practice after Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed the bill into law on May 20; it takes effect July 1.

Hawaii's texting-while-driving prohibition is the first of the year and the 22nd since 2009, which is when AAA launched its campaign to get all 50 states to pass such bans. The new law in Hawaii also bans hand-held phone use for all motorists and all wireless-device use for drivers younger than 18.

According to AAA, 86% of Americans support laws against reading, typing or sending text messages or email while driving, and 95% consider it unacceptable to text or email while driving. Still, the same study shows that more than a third of drivers admitted to reading messages while driving; more than a quarter sent texts or emails while driving in the past month.

Nine states have yet to enact texting legislation. They are Arizona, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, South Carolina and Texas. AAA said it will continue to push for bans.

"The vast majority of Americans support laws to ban texting, and it is time for legislators in the remaining states to act on this important safety issue," Kathleen Bower, AAA vice president of public affairs, said in a statement.

Drivers who text are six times more likely to crash, according to a 2009 study by the University of Utah. A motorist's crash risk doubles when they look away from the road for more than 2 seconds, according to a 2006 study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

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News Editor Matt Schmitz is a veteran Chicago journalist indulging his curiosity for all things auto while helping to inform car shoppers.  Email Matt