Hawaii Becomes 40th State to Ban Texting While Driving for All Motorists

Michael Green Contact TileAAA Commends Lawmakers for Achieving Important Safety Milestone

WASHINGTON, D.C., (May 21, 2013)– Forty states now prohibit texting for all drivers following the signing of a new law in Hawaii yesterday by Governor Neil Abercrombie. AAA commends state policymakers for reaching this significant national milestone to protect road users from dangerous distractions.

“Texting while driving is one of the riskiest actions someone can take behind the wheel,” said AAA Vice President of Public Affairs, Kathleen Bower. “The passage of texting bans in 40 states shows the widespread support for these important laws to ban behaviors that endanger everyone on our roads.”

Twenty-two states have adopted laws to prohibit texting since 2009, and Hawaii’s law, which takes effect on July 1, is the first new texting ban law passed in 2013. The nine states that have not yet acted to prohibit texting for all drivers are Arizona, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, South Carolina and Texas. The Governor of Florida is expected later this month to sign into law the 41st state texting ban.  AAA launched a campaign to pass texting bans in all 50 states in 2009.

“AAA will continue to press for texting bans in the remaining states to help prevent dangerous distractions,” continued Bower. “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.”

Nearly nine out of ten Americans (86 percent) support laws against reading, typing or sending a text message or email while driving, while 95 percent consider it unacceptable to text or email while driving, according to a 2012 survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The same study shows that more than one in three drivers (35 percent) admitted to reading and more than one in four (27 percent) admitted to sending a text message or email while driving in the past month.

“AAA Hawaii wants to thank the Legislature and Governor of Hawaii for establishing a distracted driving statute to help reduce deaths and injuries related to crashes,” said AAA Hawaii General Manager Liane Sumida.  “We appreciate their hard work to develop legislation that benefits the people of Hawaii in such a significant way.”

Texting takes a motorist’s hands off the wheel, eyes off the road and mind away from driving. Traffic safety research shows the harmful impact of text messaging on driver performance. Drivers who are text messaging are six times more likely to crash than drivers not texting, according to a 2009 study by the University of Utah. A driver’s crash risk doubles when they look away from the road for more than two or more seconds, according to a 2006 study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

Hawaii’s new law also bans handheld cell phone use for all motorists and bans all wireless device use for motorists under age 18.  Hawaii is the 11th state to adopt a handheld ban and the 38th state to take action on distracted driving by novice drivers.

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