Although the number of Washingtonians who text message while driving has increased, a recent poll indicates that the majority (83 percent of drivers surveyed) either support the fines for enforcing the new no-texting law, or think they should be even higher.
According to a poll by PEMCO Insurance, opinion among Washington drivers is divided when it comes to the cost of committing a texting offense while driving. Forty-four percent of those surveyed said the $124 fine for texting is fair, while about 40 percent said the offense is serious enough to warrant a higher fine. Just 11 percent of those polled felt the $124 fine was too high.
“The latest data shows that the vast majority of Washington drivers recognize the danger of texting while driving, and that’s encouraging. We were surprised to learn that four in 10 drivers think the fine should be even higher,” said PEMCO spokesman Jon Osterberg.
Poll data shows that younger drivers age 35 years or less think a $124 ticket is too high for a cell phone offense.
The company also asked drivers their opinions on the consequences of talking on a handheld phone while driving, and their response mirrored the results related to text messaging. When it comes to talking, about 50 percent said a $124 fine for using a handheld phone while driving is the right amount. However, 30 percent of those surveyed said $124 is too low, and 17 percent said the $124 fine is too high.
Data shows that about 80 percent of those surveyed don’t understand the effect on their driving records of receiving a ticket for either offense. A substantial number of respondents, 43 percent, incorrectly believe that a ticket will be recorded as part of a person’s official driving record, and 36 percent said they don’t know how it’s reported.
“Perhaps that’s not a bad misperception, if it discourages almost half of all drivers from texting and talking,” Osterberg said.
Responses for the PEMCO poll were collected by FBK Research of Seattle in April 2010.
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