Just as the penalties for distracted driving are set to go up Monday comes word that some folks decided they would get a bargain and get cited before the increase.
A Maui News story revealed that 265 drivers were issued citations for using cellphones last week. The current penalty for such usage under a Maui County ordinance is $97.
Under the new state law that starts Monday, the fine will be $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense, and $300 for a third offense within two years.
We can't think of a single call we've made that is worth a $300 fine. People must have different values. We'd rather spend money on golf clubs, movies and pizza than on potentially lethal phone calls.
The story cited a 2007 study that said fully one-third - 2,871 - of the motor vehicle accidents in Hawaii that year involved a distracted driver.
The commander of Maui Police Department's Traffic Section, Lt. Ricky Uedoi, reminded drivers that cellphones are not the only ticketable distraction. Other hand-held devices like a GPS system, MP3 player or camera should not be used while driving and can result in a citation.
Uedoi also confirmed that MPD is using "spotters" - an unmarked vehicle or officer on foot - looking for distracted drivers. When one is spotted, a nearby cruiser is alerted and the distracted driver is ticketed.
We're not sure who you are, but for all you distracted drivers, your passion for your hand-held devices is going to get very expensive. Be smart - protect yourself and others by holstering the gadgets until your car is parked.
You might not just save money, you might also save a few lives.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.