Texting our way to early graves

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Pale but positive, creatures of the light emerged last weekend.

But Dawn of the Living, a Coeur d’Alene late-spring sensation, featured its own zombie-like characters. Among the multitude packing local parks and filling downtown-area restaurants and other retailers Saturday and Sunday, when temperatures finally kissed 80 degrees goodbye, were the marching mindless.

Yes, the smartphone addicts. The ones whose brains have been eaten by the insidious electronic devices. The people who walk about surrounded by nature’s glory and see, hear and smell none of it because they’re lost in their phones.

You might have noticed them, too, commandeering cars backed up on Northwest Boulevard and wherever routes led to green space or beckoning water. The big giveaway — heads slightly tilted, eyes peering toward steering wheels or laps — was evident everywhere. And annoying. And dangerous.

Press columnist Sholeh Patrick recently noted that, according to 2019 research from Simply Insurance:

• More than 88 percent of drivers use their smartphone while driving, up to 3.5 minutes per hour.

• One in 4 car accidents in the U.S. is caused by texting and driving, or 1.6 million crashes each year.

• Sixty-nine percent of Americans admit they text and drive. That doesn’t change when someone else is in the car with them.

Did you also catch the part in Patrick’s column where 90 percent of Americans surveyed still use their phones in the car, even as they admit that doing so should be illegal? What does that say about us as an allegedly sentient species?

We know you know, but this hazardous practice is particularly maddening because it’s 100 percent avoidable. Law enforcement is basically helpless to clamp down, so that leaves it up to each of us to make a difficult decision and stick with it:

When driving, keep the damned phone off.

For more information on the study, see bit.ly/2PLtWiO.

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