Governor Enacts New Traffic Safety Laws

Gov. Neil Abercrombie
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REPORT FROM THE OFFICE OF GOV NEIL ABERCROMBIE – With representatives of the state Departments of Transportation (DOT) and Health (DOH), county police departments and traffic safety advocates standing in support, Gov. Neil Abercrombie today signed into law two significant traffic safety bills that will save lives and reduce serious injuries from motor vehicle crashes in Hawaii.

“Hawaii is putting safety first on our roadways with the enactment of our state’s universal seat belt law; this measure closes the gap in protecting all passengers riding in a motor vehicle,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “In addition, the enactment of Hawaii’s distracted driving law establishes consistency across the state for the usage of mobile electronic devices while driving, simplifying enforcement and likewise making our highways and roadways safer.”


Senate Bill 4, relating to “Motor Vehicles” – Enacted as Act 73, this measure requires all front seat and back seat occupants to buckle up, effective immediately. Adults and children must use their seat belts and child restraints at all times. Unrestrained back seat passengers were more than three times as likely to have injuries that were fatal or required hospitalization compared to restrained back seat passengers, based on DOH’s analysis of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) records. Additionally, among back seat passengers who were treated for injuries by EMS, average medical charges were nearly tripled among those who did not use seat belts ($11,043), compared to restrained passengers ($3,817).

“The Department of Health is pleased to see rates of passenger-related injuries going down based on high levels of seat belt use among front seat passengers,” said Health Director Loretta Fuddy. “We anticipate that we’ll see further reductions in injuries and death with the passage of this law for back seat passengers.”

House Bill 980, relating to “Highway Safety” – Enacted today as Act 74, this measure is effective July 1, 2013. While all counties have some form of a distracted driving ordinance in place, this measure establishes a state law that creates consistent requirements across all counties for the use of mobile electronic devices while driving and will simplify enforcement. Crash data from the DOT shows that during 2007, 32 percent (2,871 of the 8,770 collisions) were attributed to inattention to driving.

“People are injured or dying each year simply because they were not paying attention to the road. The possibility of causing a crash that could ruin lives is just too great,” said DOT Director Glenn Okimoto. “We are focusing on changing the behaviors of drivers through legislation, enforcement, public awareness and education – the same activities that have helped curb impaired driving and increased seat belt use. Our goal is to help drivers understand that texting, cell phone use, and other distractions behind the wheel can have dangerous consequences.”

The bill signings were held in conjunction with the DOT’s launch of the annual Click It or Ticket enforcement campaign, a partnership between the state and counties with federal funding. During the national Click It or Ticket mobilization from May 20 to June 2 and throughout the year, police statewide will be continuing strict enforcement of the state seat belt and child passenger restraint laws.





  1. Funny how things look good on paper, but that's about as far as it ever goes. These politicians waste so much money sitting in a cave thinking up great ideas. Ever since talking on cell phones became illegal I see tons of people driving around holding their phones up to their ears. What makes you think people will listen to these new laws. Maybe Abercrombie needs to worry more about enforcing the basic laws rather than piling on more. Maybe distractions play a role in traffic accidents and maybe all passengers using seat belts will raise survival rates, but maybe there's other things that Abercrombie and the politicians need to address other things that will improve safety on the roads as well. Maybe controlling their budgets and repairing and building up Hawaii's road systems need to be addressed. Driving on Hawaii's roads are the worst and its not like alternatives are an option. It's so dangerous to drive on the road, as a result, there's no way I would ride a bike on the road. Maybe drivers also need to be better evaluated. I see some people driving that just don't belong behind the wheel. I don't understand how they got their drivers license. Maybe tax money can be better put to use in other areas rather than in the pockets of politicians. Every year I pay more and more taxes. Taxes go up and the roads and traffic gets worse. Taxes go up and the state is always broke. So Abercrombie's great ideas are going to help? Maybe…but I'm more worried about driving on the roads because of killer potholes, ridiculous traffic, crappy drivers, and most of all crazy freeway shooters like this Toby Stangel clown. Apparently, people are going out and randomly shooting people. Think about it. Hawaii doesn't have enough resources to repair its roads let alone expand them. Hawaii doesn't have enough resources to enforce cell phone laws. Why would signing new laws matter. It's hit or miss in the end. There are so many laws that Hawaii doesn't have the resources to enforce them.

    • Genius you are absolutely right. HPD has enough problems enforcing the laws on the books now!! I would like to add that no where in this new seat belt law does it address the inheritantly unsafe practice of riding in the back of pick up trucks. What is being done about this? This is nothing more than a feel good measure.

  2. The click it or ticket campaign is such a farce played on tax payers. It's too hard to go after real criminals so this is a way to justify using our tax dollars to cover their paychecks. Don't you all just feel safe knowing that the cops are protecting us against those scary criminals that don't buckle up?

  3. OMG! Another shooting in Makaha! A dead body at Yokohama bay! This place is turning into a crazy circus with monkeys trying to run the show and clowns trying to catch these killers on the loose. The survival rate of all the murderers who are driving are up due to seatbelt use and hands free devices. What's next? Slick Willy Espero thinks its a great idea for criminals not to ride in the back of pick up trucks? Lol! In the end, what's the point? Less drivers on Hawaii's roads die from traffic accidents only to get shot while driving on the roads?

  4. Today a fatal car crash involving a male driver in his 70s and a woman in her 60s shut down the Pali. Is it that this guy managed to cause his own vehicle accident which ended in his own fatality and the fatality of his passenger all by himself? The only variables in this accident could be one of two things or both. Either it was the drivers error, or it was the road conditions, or both. Either way these drivers need to be better assessed before being allowed to get behind the wheel. It is the responsibility of everyone. If you drive on the road a see people who don't belong behind the wheel get their license plate and turn them in! If the fatalities today were in fact the result of the driver, they might still be alive if someone turned this guy in earlier. I'm sure this isn't the first time he's been behind the wheel.

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