The Curry Coastal Pilot

Half of the traffic accidents in Curry County are directly associated with the use of electronic devices, says Sheriff John Bishop. Meanwhile, a national poll shows that 61 percent of teen drivers admit to looking at their phone while driving, and another 43 percent will try to send a text.

Our own informal observations suggest those statistics apply to adults as well. Far too many times, when we glare at the car that cut someone off, ignored a signal, or didn't see a hazard, the driver has a cell phone up to their ear.

Too many drivers simply are not getting the message about cell phones and driving. Or they are choosing to ignore all the statistics at the peril of themselves, their passengers and all the rest of us driving around them.

Sometimes the distraction happens with old-fashioned items like books. We were astounded this weekend to see an adult driver and passenger sharing a paperback book while speeding down the freeway at 70 mph. The U.S. National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration posts an entire list of driving distractions that includes texting, cell phones, browsing, eating and drinking, grooming, using video maps, watching videos or adjusting a radio, CD player or MP3 player.

It is not just that there are laws against hand-held devices and texting while driving. The statistics are clear: Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times more likely to get into an injury accident. Those who try to read or send texts while driving are 23 times more likely to be in a crash. At 55 mph, you travel 100 yards while glancing at a text; would you drive that distance blindfolded at any speed?

If not for your own protection, then for the safety of everyone else in your car and in your path: Hang up and drive!