City bill banning use of electronic devices while driving moves forward - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

City bill banning use of electronic devices while driving moves forward

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Councilmember Todd Apo Councilmember Todd Apo
Lori Nishimura Lori Nishimura

By Leland Kim - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The days of talking on your cell phone while driving on Oahu may be numbered if a city bill becomes law. The Honolulu City Council is considering Bill 4, which would outlaw drivers from using handheld electronic devices, including cell phones.

This bill could dramatically change what we do while we're on the road, and we're not just talking about cell phones. The bill also bans drivers from using iPods, video game devices, laptops and other electronic devices.

The support for the bill comes from those who view cell phones and other items as unnecessary distractions on the road. Police officers say distracted drivers increase the chance of causing traffic accidents. But the way the bill is written, a driver only needs to hold a cell phone in his hand to be pulled over for the violation.

"I'm holding this up to my ear," said Councilmember Todd Apo, Honolulu City Council Chair. "How do you know, how do you prove that they are using the cell phone?"

"We do understand Councilmember Apo's concern about holding the device, but I think the presumption underneath the law is you wouldn't be holding the device unless you were going to be doing something with it."

The bill does make an exception for those calling 9-1-1 and for those who work in public safety, like police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and civil defense employees. Mayor Mufi Hannemann said he supports this bill because it's more enforceable than a similar bill he recently vetoed. Bill 67 would have banned texting while driving,

The good news is it's not a total ban. Drivers can still use hands free Bluetooth devices while driving. An amended version of the bill passed, and it's up for a second reading and a public hearing in the next few weeks.