KUHF-KHOU Poll Shows Widespread Support For Texting While Driving Ban

Distracted driving causes more than 3,000 deaths annually in the United States. The KUHF-KHOU 11 News Election Poll asked likely voters whether they would support a ban on texting while driving.

Nearly everyone these days seems to be using a cell phone in the car.

Just last week Comedian Louis C.K. explained this phenomenon to Conan O'Brien.

"You're in your car and you start going, ohhhh no, here it comes, that I am alone — like it starts to visit on you. You know, just this sadness, life is tremendously sad by being in it. And so you're driving and then you go ohhh, that's why we text and drive. I look around, pretty much 100 percent of people driving are texting."

All joking aside, texting and driving does seem to be everywhere.
According to the CDC, distracted driving causes more than 400,000 injuries a year.
And those numbers only reflect the cases where someone admits they were using a cell phone.

So we asked voters, should the State of Texas pass a law banning texting while driving?

The response was a landslide with 88 percent in favor of a ban.

Rice University Political Science Prof. Bob Stein conducted the KUHF-KHOU Election Poll.

"What's interesting here, there isn't a group, not a demographic, not a racial, not an ethnic, not a partisan, not an area of the city that doesn't support this by 88 to 90 percent."

Two years ago, Texas lawmakers successfully passed legislation to ban texting while driving, only to have Gov. Rick Perry veto it.

They tried to pass a ban again this year, but the bill was never brought up for a vote.

This is Houston Mayor Annise Parker back in April, when she said she was prepared to enact a citywide ban, if one failed at the state level.

"I am prepared to begin the discussion with city council about a local ordinance. I have an ordinance in draft form if we need to do that. I'd prefer to see something happen at the state level."

That draft ordinance has since languished at city hall.

I asked Parker about it this week, questioning whether she plans to bring it up for a vote.

"Not at this time, we are really focused on the public awareness campaign. Even though I put some thought into a draft ordinance and we did do an initial draft, I've always said that the most important thing was getting the public engaged and really having the public dialogue."

Parker says there needs to be more publicity about the dangers of texting while driving, similar to the ad campaigns against drinking and driving or the ones promoting seat belt use.

Of course, both of those issues are undergirded by state laws.

Austin, El Paso and San Antonio are the only large Texas cities with a ban on texting. Austin is considering tightening its law to ban the use of any type of electronic device while driving.

To see the results of the KUHF-KHOU 11 News Election Poll, visit www.kuhf.org/poll2013.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...