Kauai Police Department steps up enforcement during distracted driving awareness month

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The Kau’i Police Department is supporting the statewide and national campaign for Distracted Driving Awareness Month by increasing enforcement of Hawaii’s distracted driving laws.

“Our hope is that by announcing our increased enforcement efforts, we can motivate people to take it upon themselves to commit to distracted-free driving,” stated Assistant Chief Ale Quibilan of the Patrol Services Bureau. “Not just because it’s against the law, but because it’s the right and safe thing to do.”

The state Department of Transportation reports that nationally, distracted driving was involved in 3,092 traffic fatalities in 2010.

Here in Hawaii, county police departments issued 20,905 distracted driving citations statewide in 2012, indicating that Hawai’i is not immune to the problem. On Kauai, police issued 870 citations last year to motorists who were caught using cell phones or other electronic devices while driving.

Studies show that texting or emailing while driving is the most dangerous type of distraction and a driver is 23 times more likely to get into a crash if texting while driving. However, police remind motorists that “distracted driving” is any type of activity that could divert a driver’s attention, such as talking on the phone or to other passengers, grooming, eating, or drinking while driving.

“While not all of these activities are illegal, they are all dangerous for a motorist to be doing while operating a vehicle, and I believe people generally understand those dangers,” added Assistant Chief Quibilan. The challenge now is to move people from understanding the dangerous behavior to changing it, and that is why police departments are joining state Department of Transportation’s local campaign. Taking an oath against distracted driving could save your life or the life of a loved one.”

The State Department of Transportation earlier announced the launch of a new media campaign, which included public service announcements on the dangers of distracted driving. The message urges the public to end distracted driving, before it ends you.

For more information on the statewide effort, visit http://hidot.hawaii.gov.

For facts and other information on the dangers of distracted driving, visit the U.S. DOT website dedicated to the national campaign, www.distraction.gov

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