”’The Hawaii State House of Representatives debated this past session whether all cell phones – hand held or otherwise – should be illegal to use in automobiles.”’

”’Democrats argued people are incapable of driving safely and acting responsibly while operating a car with a cell phone in the car.”’

”’The majority of Republicans, 9 of 15, argued distractions other than cell phones cause many more accidents than does the use of cell phones. They cited the following report: AAA analyzed 26,245 accidents nationwide and reported of distracted driver crashes 30 percent occurred when the driver was focused on something outside of the car, 11 percent was caused by shifting focus to the CD or radio player; 10.9 percent were the result of distractions of other passengers; 1.7 percent was the result of eating or drinking while driving and 1.5 percent were distracted by the use of wireless phones.”’

”’The bill passed the House by a 41 to 9 vote, with the majority party voting to ban all cell phones in cars. Those who voted no, all Republicans, were Reps. Brian Blundell, Kika Bukoski, Lynn Finnegan, Galen Fox, Mark Jernigan, Colleen Meyer, Mark Moses, Guy Ontai and Bud Stonebraker, and Rep. Hiraki was excused.”’

”’The bill died in the Senate.”’

”’Rep. Joe Souki, D-Maui, was the only Democrat to defend his vote with a floor speech, which is reprinted below to further the Battle of Ideas in Hawaii. A counter to Souki’s speech by Rep. Mark Jernigan, R-Maui, is also published today. See:”’ “Battle of Ideas: Cell Phones In Cars Do Not Cause Majority of Crashes, Should Not Be Banned”

“Joe Souki Image”

“Battle of Ideas: Cell Phones In Cars Do Not Cause Majority of Crashes, Should Not Be Banned”

Rep. Joe Souki rose to speak in support of the measure, stating:

Yes, thank you very much, Madame Speaker. I wish to speak in favor of this bill. I believe this bill is an accident prevention measure, and it is working very well in New York City and the state of New York where they have found it prevented accidents by more than 10 percent in looking at those pre and post using of hands free cell phones.

Madame Speaker, it does provide also in this bill that for emergency purposes, you can use a cell phone. It does provide for truckers, policemen and commercial equipment operators that they can use hand held. So there are exceptions in this bill.

The major part in this bill is to avoid the continual distraction of driving and using one hand on the wheel and one on your ear. It does make for potential disasters. In fact, the state was held liable just recently for an accident where it caused a grave injury to someone from Canada. I believe they were killed in an accident from a person using a hand held phone. So to say this is not a distraction is questionable. I don’t understand why we would want to speak against this. I think this bill would go a long way in providing the people of the state of Hawaii a degree of safety, both on the streets and in the car. Thank you very much.

”’Joe Souki is the Democrat Representative for Maui.”’

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