Upcoming law is driving more Oahu customers to cell phone stores

Naoi Yuen
Naoi Yuen
Derick Mormad
Derick Mormad
Rodney Um
Rodney Um

By Duncan Armstrong

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Despite the downed economy, cell phone retailers on Oahu are busier than ever, not because customers are purchasing new phones, but because they are upgrading their old ones.

That's because a new law that prohibits drivers from using their cell phone while behind the wheel is about to take effect.

Retailers are trying to keep up with the demand. Many people have a story of a driver who has made some questionable maneuvers while driving and using a cell phone.

But beginning July 1st, drivers are going to need a hands-free device while driving on Oahu roads.

For Naoi Yuen, it's just another day on the phone with his buddies.

Yuen spends most of his free time on his cell.

"It's easy. Just one click of the button to answer call and hang up," said Yuen.

He upgraded his phone about a month ago and is glad that he picked up a Bluetooth.

"I think the new law is going to be a good thing," said Yuen.

While it may be a pain for some drivers, it's been a boom for many retailers selling Bluetooth accessories.

"Our sales have increased by 50% with the sale of these headphones alone," said Raymond Um, Hawaiian Telcom Manager, "Roughly about 25% of our daily traffic now, so that cranks out to about 100 customers a week that are specifically asking for wireless solutions or wire head sets."

Retailers KHNL spoke with began stocking up on the devices about 6 weeks ago, and some have had to restock three or four times a day.

Sales Managers say now is the time to get a hands-free device, while you can find some deals starting at $20.

While you may not realize how many calls you make while driving or how dependent you are on your cell phone, you'll soon be forced to develop new habits. And if you're caught breaking the law, penalties could range from $15 to $100.

Some lawmakers hope the law will make roads safer, and for Yuen that's what it's all about.

"I would like to see drivers pay more attention to the road and if they have to make a phone call this is about the safest way to do it," he said.

Oahu joins six states and more than 40 countries with this kind of law.

The Honolulu City Council passed the bill by a six to one vote about a month ago.