JBPHH to crack down on distracted driving violations

JBPHH is instituting tough new rules against the use of cell phones while driving. Photo courtesy of Distraction.gov

JBPHH is instituting tough new rules against
the use of cell phones while driving. Photo courtesy of Distraction.gov

Brandon Bosworth

Staff Writer

Distracted driving remains a major problem throughout the U.S., in Hawaii and at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Locally, distracted drivers caused nearly 10 percent of auto fatalities in the years 2007-2010, according to the state Department of Health.

The use of cell phones while driving is especially dangerous. Using a cell phone while driving on JBPHH is prohibited. The consequences for violating this rule can be serious.

“In the very near future, safety traffic violations such as using cell phones while driving will result in the automatic suspension of driving privileges in the installation for up to 30 days,” said Lt. j.g. John J. Caicedo, assistant operations officer, JBPHH Security Department, Operations.

“This suspension will occur immediately when the officer issues the citation along with a suspension of driving privileges letter.”

Base security officers will be carrying suspension of driving privileges letters pre-signed by Capt. Jeffrey James, commander of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

“There are local laws in place against distracted driving,” said James. “But we’re taking it a step further at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. We are holding people accountable if they violate base traffic rules.”

“No one can effectively talk on a cell phone and drive or text and drive,” said James. “It puts people at unnecessary risk.”

The risks of using a cell phone while driving are well established. The National Safety Council estimates 25 percent of all crashes involve cell phone use. Texting while driving has replaced drinking while driving as the leading cause of accidents and deaths of teenage drivers.

Driving a vehicle while texting is six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Harvard Center for Risk Analysis estimates that texting in cars and trucks causes more than 3,000 deaths and 330,000 injuries per year. Texting drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash than non-texting drivers.

Just talking on a cell phone while driving is not safe either. Twenty-eight percent of traffic accidents occur when drivers are using cell phones, according to the National Safety Council. The vast majority of these accidents are caused by cellphone conversations. According to research by Carnegie Mellon University, driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent. Contrary to widespread belief, there is little evidence that using a hands-free phone is safe. The cognitive distraction of having a hands-free phone conversation causes drivers to miss the important visual and audio cues that would ordinarily help them avoid a crash.

All of Hawaii’s counties have enacted distracted driving laws. Text messaging and the use of handheld cell phones while driving are illegal. Violators face hefty fines.

In addition to the ban on using a cell phone while driving, JBPHH also has rules in place for pedestrians. The use of portable headphones, earphones, cellular phones, iPods or other listening and entertainment devices, other than hearing aids, are prohibited while walking, jogging, running, bicycling, skating or skate boarding on base roadways.

NPASE created a video on texting and driving and posted it on their Facebook and YouTube pages. Here is a link to their video: http://ow.ly/kT3mC.

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Category: News