Distracted driving can be deadly

LIHUE — Since January, Kauai officers have issued more than 220 tickets to drivers who’ve been on their phones and putting other roadway users’ lives at risk, according to recent KPD stats.

Today, the Hawaii Department of Transportation, together with KPD and Toyota Hawaii, will be educating Kauai drivers about the dangers of distracted driving at Kukui Grove Center between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. for National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

“The collaborative effort between the county police departments and the state Department of Transportation to host community events during Distracted Driving Awareness month helps us to educate the public on the dangers of distracted driving,” said KPD Chief Darryl Perry. “We hope to encourage all motorists to exercise safe practices while on the road to help keep each other safe.”

The presentation at Kukui Grove will include a new, state-of-the-art digital simulator system that allows the public, especially students, to experience how dangerous it would be to operate a vehicle while being distracted. The digital simulator system is the only one of its kind in Hawaii, according to HDOT.

“Driving requires one’s full attention, and any distraction can lead to dangerous and possibly deadly implications,” said Ford Fuchigami, HDOT director. “The goal of this campaign is to change driver behavior, and that change begins with education. We hope that once people see the statistics, they will evaluate and alter their driving habits to help protect themselves and others on the road.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, at any given daylight moment across the country, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010.

Nationwide in 2014, 3,179 people were killed, and 431,000 were injured nationwide in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted driving. Additional research shows that 10 percent of drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as being distracted at the time of the crash.

“We hope that by experiencing the dangers of distracted driving in a safe, controlled environment, people will think twice about doing it in real life and possibly making a fatal mistake,” Fuchigami said. “You may get a second chance in the simulator exercise, but sadly, that is not the case in real life.”


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