The Hawaii Department of Transportation, county police departments, Toyota Hawaii and others are stressing the dangers of distracted driving.

On Tuesday, they held a press availability at the Hawaii State Capitol to remind folks that April is  National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

“Distracted driving is a real problem on our roadways,” DOT Director Ford Fuchigami said in a statement. “Too many people think it’s okay to text, talk on the phone or play with their mobile devices while driving, but doing so may lead to real consequences and unnecessary tragedies. Unlike the simulator, you can’t just hit the reset button in real life.”

Distract Driving Awareness month

HPD Chief of Police Louis Kealoha addresses the dangers of Distracted Driving and the penalties for violations at the Capitol Tuesday.

Hawaii DOT

To mark the occasion, DOT unveiled a “new state-of-the-art” simulator that allows drivers to go through various scenarios and experience “the consequences of distracted driving, including crashing into objects, other vehicles and pedestrians.”

The simulator will be used in school presentations and safety fairs throughout the year, says the DOT.

In 2013, it’s estimated that more than 3,100 people were killed and more than 400,000 injured nationwide in car crashes involving distracted drivers.  

Distracted Driving Awareness month

Sen. Clarence Nishihara takes a distracted driving simulation test at the Capitol.

Hawaii DOT

Hawaii’s law bans the use of hand-held mobile electronic devices — cell phones, mp3 players, personal digital assistants, navigation devices and tablets — while operating a vehicle. Drivers under the age of 18 are also banned completely from talking on cell phones, even while using hands-free devices.

The fine starts at $257, with higher fines in school and construction zones.

Click here for more information about the dangers of distracted driving. But don’t do it while reading your mobile phone in traffic, please … unless your stuck in another marathon jam, like yesterday on Oahu.

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