According to a recent poll by the New York Times and CBS News, nearly all Americans now say that sending text messages while driving should be illegal, and around half say the crime should be punished at least as harshly as drunk driving.
Ninety-seven percent of respondents supported a ban on texting while driving, an unusual rate of agreement on any public safety topic. Eighty percent also agreed with a ban on speaking on hand-held cellular phones while driving.
“Someone who is texting creates just as much of a danger as someone behind the wheel who is inebriated,” said Michael Brooks, 38, from Limerick, Pa.
An additional two percent of those surveyed said that texting behind the wheel should be punished even more harshly than drunk driving. Forty-three percent said motorists who text should not be treated like drunken drivers.
Despite studies showing that hands-free use does not increase the safety of talking on a cell phone while driving, seventy percent of respondents have no problem with drivers using a hands-free phone behind the wheel. This is the same number found by a 2001 ABC News survey.
The nationwide telephone poll was conducted Oct. 5-8 with 829 adults and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
To view complete survey results and methodology, click here.