Most Arizonans want state lawmakers to follow Phoenix’s lead and ban text messaging while driving, according to a new state poll.
A survey by KAET-TV (Channel 8), the Valley’s PBS affiliate, shows 87 percent of those polled support a law that would make it illegal for motorists to send text messages from cell phones, personal-digital assistants and similar devices while operating a motor vehicle.
Only 11 percent were opposed.
The survey was conducted days after the Phoenix City Council voted last week to allow police to stop and cite motorists for thumbing messages on the road.
For now, police are only issuing warnings. Once enforcement starts in mid-October, the fine will be $100 for offenders and $250 for offenders involved in a crash.
The poll comes as officials in several other communities, including Scottsdale, Mesa and Apache Junction, consider following suit.
Those moves — and perhaps the poll — may bolster efforts of Rep. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, who failed to get legislators to consider such a statewide ban earlier this year.
Farley has vowed to reintroduce the measure when the Legislature reconvenes in January. And he is planning a separate measure to make it illegal to use a cell phone without a hands-free device, another proposal that has failed to gain legislative traction.
The moves have alarmed Susan Bitter Smith, who lobbies on behalf of several cellular phone companies.
Bitter Smith said lawmakers should pass a law that makes it illegal for motorists to engage in any type of behavior that distracts drivers.
But Farley fears the measure would be doomed to fail if it was expanded to include everything from eating to turning around to talk to kids in the back seat.
The telephone survey of 703 voters has a margin of error of 3.6 percentage points.