CASTLETON — A poll report from the Castleton Polling Institute says that the majority of Vermonters favor banning the use of cellphones while behind the wheel.
According to the poll, released Thursday, about 68 percent of Vermonters polled said they would support “making it illegal to talk on a cellphone while driving in Vermont.”
This is down 12 points from a previous poll the institute conducted for WCAX, WDEV and Vermont Business Magazine in May. That poll found 80 percent of registered voters favored such a ban.
In the new poll, about 28 percent of respondents opposed banning cellphone use while driving, while 3 percent were not sure.
Rich Clark, director of the Castleton Polling Institute, said the reduced support from last year to this year can be explained by the age demographic of those interviewed. He said the May poll used a list of registered voters that is skewed toward an older population.
The new poll shows that 39 percent of respondents ages 18 to 24 would support a ban on cellphone use while driving, while 87 percent of respondents aged 65 or older favor a ban. As respondents got older, more of them supported banning cellphone use while driving.
“When it’s the general population ... you would have expected (the poll results) to go down,” Clark said. “If we have the same sample base, the same population and it had dropped, that would have been our story.”
Vermont law currently allows drivers age 18 or older to talk on their cellphones while driving, but bans all drivers from texting while driving.
Henry Allen, 34, of Rutland said he agrees with the idea that it should be illegal to drive and talk on a cellphone. He said it’s very dangerous for drivers and pedestrians alike.
“Your attention should be on driving,” he said. “It you had an earpiece that you would connect to the car, fine, but if you have to hold it to your ear, no.”
The poll results are part of a policy poll that also included questions on the “death with dignity” debate, single-payer health care, wind power and gun control. The poll was conducted Feb. 6 to Feb. 17 with 620 people interviewed. The margin of error at the 95 percent confidence level is plus or minus 3.9 percent.
Castleton polling also included questions regarding the approval ratings of Vermonters for President Barack Obama and Gov. Peter Shumlin. According to the report, 62 percent of Vermonters say they approve of the job being done by the president, while 60 percent approve of the work Shumlin has done in Vermont.
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