By huge majorities, Idahoans want the Legislature to enact a statewide ban on handheld cell phone use while driving. And if the state won’t do it, then Idahoans want local governments to have that power, a new Idaho Politics Weekly poll shows.

Pollster Dan Jones & Associates finds:

  • 84 percent of Idahoans want the state to ban cell phone use while driving.
  • Only 14 percent favor the current use of drivers using their handheld cell phones.
  • While 2 percent don’t know.

There are currently two bills, one in the House, the other in the Senate, that would do away with the practice statewide, which many driving safety experts say contributes to distracted driving, and thus the chance of accidents.

   DJA finds majority support for both questions – the Legislature should ban handheld cellphone driving statewide, or local governments should have the power to do so – across all demographic and age categories.

   That is a very clear preference against handheld cellphone use by drivers.

   The only statistical difference is between men and women, with women demanding the ban by drivers talking on their handphones more than do men.

   Here are some of the numbers:

   91 percent of women say ban the use of handheld phones by drivers.

   While 78 percent of men do.

   Republicans hold hefty majorities in both the state House and Senate.

   But this is not a partisan issue.

   DJA finds that Republicans support a state ban, 83-15 percent.

   Democrats want drivers to stop using their handphones, 89-12 percent.

   And political independents favor banning the practice, 86-12 percent.

   Already several local governments – cities and counties – ban drivers from using their handheld phones.

   But, of course, this causes problems, since a driver may be coming into a city which bans handheld cell phone calls, then passes the city limit and is in violation of law – and may well not know it if he doesn’t live in that city.

   It makes more sense to have a statewide policy.

   But, DJA finds, by large majorities, Idahoans say if the Legislature won’t ban the practice, then local governments should have that power.

   One of the bills now before the Legislature would ban drivers from using their handheld phones, but would also repeal the ban currently in place for several cities and counties – thus making it clear those local entities couldn’t have a contrary law.

   DJA polled 615 adults from Jan. 23-Feb.4. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.