Announcements: April 8, 2021

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

The state Department of Transportation and the four county police departments will join law enforcement nationwide in conducting stepped-up enforcement today through Monday to remind drivers about the dangers and consequences of texting and driving distracted. This annual campaign is part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) U Drive. U Text. U Pay. high-visibility enforcement effort during Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

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Hawaii’s law prohibits the use of mobile electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle, making it illegal for drivers to text or engage in other hand-held uses of mobile electronic devices such as cell phones, mp3 players, personal digital assistants and navigation devices. The law also prohibits drivers from using a hand-held mobile electronic device when stopped at a red light or stop sign. Furthermore, no person under the age of 18 may use a hands-free mobile electronic device while operating a motor vehicle. The fine for violating this law starts at $297. Violations in school zones or construction areas start at $347.

DOT Deputy Director of Highway Ed Sniffen noted that 34.3% of Hawaii’s 108 traffic fatalities in 2019 involved distracted drivers.

“That is unacceptable,” he said. “We are supporting NHTSA’s nationwide commitment to enforce cell phone and texting bans, and to reduce traffic crashes caused by distracted drivers. The ultimate goal of this effort is to protect us all from unnecessary injuries and deaths associated with using a cell phone while driving. These senseless crashes are preventable, and the focus should be on driving to ensure that everyone arrives alive.”

For more information, visit www.nhtsa.gov/campaign/distracted-driving.

Initiative seeks to bolster commercial ag production

The state Department of Agriculture is accepting proposals for the Grow Hawaii Agriculture Initiative 2021, an initiative to quickly scale up commercial agricultural production including the production of value-added products with the goal to increase the contribution of agriculture to the state’s gross domestic product (GDP). The GDP is the total market value of final goods and services produced that also serves as an indicator of economic health.

Under the initiative, the department expects to award about six proposals from commercial agricultural enterprises for up to $250,000 or some alternate combination deemed most advantageous to the state. This request is for local farmers, ranchers and other operators with proven track record of success but in need of urgent funding to expand their commercial production and to establish working models that can effectively contribute to growth of agriculture GDP by implementing one or more of the following: expanding the size, diversity and/or scope of operations; enhancing production through addressing challenges in supply/cost of inputs to an agricultural operation; increasing production efficiency through use of new and emerging technologies; addressing the supply chain bottlenecks that plague Hawaii agriculture; and increasing the value-added potential.

Information on the request for proposals may be found at https://hands.ehawaii.gov/hands/opportunities/opportunity-details/20081. Applications/proposals must be emailed to marci.clingan@hawaii.gov and received by noon May 3. Project funds are expected to be available in July.

Learn how to solve landlord-tenant disputes

Learn about your rights as either a landlord or tenant during the COVID 19’s moratorium on evictions during a free webinar on Hawaii Landlord-Tenant Mediation at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

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Speakers from the Mediation Center of the Pacific will talk about free services available to landlords and tenants to resolve issues about payment plans, rent reduction, property repairs, behaviors, or other issues worsened by the pandemic.

Register to get a Zoom link at www.aarp.org/nearyou or go to the AARP Hawaii Facebook page and click on Upcoming Events.