Poll: U.S. favors ban on phones while driving

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A new University of Michigan study indicates that most people would support laws making cell phone use illegal while driving. Although 69 percent of the 849 respondents owned a cell phone, nearly two-thirds of the respondents said state governments should pass laws banning cell phone use while driving; 29 percent said they did not support such a law.

The study showed that 88 percent of respondents said that a police officer should note on the incident report whether a driver was using a cell phone when an accident occurred. In addition, 60 percent preferred to maintain a ban on cell phone use in airplanes; 26 percent supported lifting the ban.

While 60 percent of respondents said public use of cell phones disturbed or irritated them, only 43 percent said laws should prohibit talking on a cell phone in public places such as restaurants, movie theaters or museums.

“The support for the use of cell phones in public places, despite the irritation, comes primarily from cell phone owners,” says the study’s author, Michael Traugott, a professor in the university’s Department of Communications Studies and a senior research professor at the university’s Institute for Social Research. “They seem reluctant to impose restraints on their own behavior.”