Maui police issued 600 citations, most of them for seat-belt violations, during the two-week "Click It or Ticket" campaign that ended Sunday.
The total of 487 seat-belt and child-restraint violations was lower than the 587 citations issued during the stepped-up enforcement period last year.
Lt. Ricky Uedoi, commander of the police Traffic Section, said that may be because more people are buckling up.
San Francisco resident Anthony Aiman holds his citation after being ticketed for improperly wearing his seat belt under his arm. DUI Task Force officer Dennis Arnds issued the citation to the passenger in Kihei last month as part of “Click It or Ticket” enforcement.
The Maui News / LILA FUJIMOTO photo
"We did notice that compliance seemed to be high," he said. "It's a good thing that we didn't give as many citations this year as last year. We'd like to think we're starting to generate more compliance."
The citations issued from May 20 to June 2 included 449 for seat-belt violations and 38 for child-restraint violations. Most of the tickets were given in Kahului, Wailuku and Lahaina. Officers also gave out six seat-belt citations and one cellphone citation on Lanai, one seat-belt citation on Molokai and six seat-belt citations in Hana.
As the "Click It or Ticket" campaign began May 20, Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed into law a universal seat-belt measure requiring back-seat passengers to buckle up as well. Under the law, drivers are cited and are responsible for paying the $92 fine for unbuckled back-seat as well as other
passengers, even if they're adults.
Although the law took effect immediately, Uedoi said officers educated but didn't cite most drivers for unbelted back-seat passengers during the enforcement. "We were giving a lot of warnings," he said.
But one citation was issued for a back-seat passenger who was lying down and had two legs outside the window, Uedoi said.
The ticket total included 12 citations issued for occupants illegally riding in pickup truck beds. Under current law, anyone under age 13 is prohibited from riding in the bed of a pickup. The law also bans anyone from riding in the bed unless all seats in the cab are filled. The fines are $87 if someone under age 13 is in the pickup bed and $62 if anyone else is in the pickup bed.
Also during the enforcement, officers gave out 101 citations to drivers using their hands to operate cellphones or other mobile electronic devices. "That still is an everyday problem," Uedoi said.
Under Maui County ordinance, the fine is $97 for a cellphone violation.
When a state law takes effect July 1, the fines will increase to $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense within a year and $300 for a third offense within two years. Fines will double in a school zone or construction area.
In addition, all cellphone use, even when it's hands free, will be prohibited for drivers under age 18.
The state Department of Transportation will be doing surveys of seat-belt use Saturday on Molokai, Sunday on Lanai and June 20 to 23 on Maui.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at email@example.com.