Poll: Texting + Driving Should be Illegal

Person texting on cell phone while driving
An overwhelming majority of Americans believe that texting while driving should be illegal, a new CBS News/New York Times survey finds, with 97 percent saying the practice should be outlawed.
A mere one percent says that the practice should be legal.

Both men and women, frequent drivers and those who drive less frequently, and Americans from all regions of the country agree that texting while driving should be illegal.

Earlier this month, President Obama signed legislation banning federal employees from text messaging while driving. Texting while driving is currently banned in 18 states.

More than half (52 percent) of those who said the practice should be illegal say the punishment for texting and driving should match the punishment for drunk driving. Forty-four percent say the punishment should be less severe, and two percent say it should be more severe.

Read the Complete Poll

Americans over the age of 45 are more likely to favor harsher punishments for texting and driving than younger Americans.

Fifty-eight percent of those under 45 say texting while driving should be punished less severely than driving while intoxicated, while 65 percent of those over 45 say the severity of the punishment should be equal for both.

More than two in three Americans say driving and talking a hands-free cell phone is safer than talking on a hand-held phone, though some experts disagree. Twenty-eight percent say the level of safety in both situations is the same.

In keeping with this, while eight in 10 Americans think using a hand-held cell phone while driving should be against the law, roughly seven in 10 think using a hands-free device while driving should remain legal.

Driving while talking on a cell phone is illegal in seven states.

This poll was conducted among a random sample of 829 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone October 5-8, 2009. Phone numbers were dialed from random digit dial samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher.

This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.