We have been hearing for a decade or so now how it is dangerous to use cellphones and other electronic devices while driving. Yet the statistics show that the problem of distracted driving is getting worse, not better, despite enforcement and educational efforts.

National crash statistics released recently show that fatal crashes have increased dramatically the past couple of years, despite the fact that our airbag- and safety-feature-laden vehicles have never been safer. (The linked article is a sobering read about smartphone use in general.)

I'm not sure the blame lies completely with cellphones, though. The electronic "infotainment" features in newer vehicles, which allow access to more entertainment options than we need, definitely serve as a distraction, despite the warnings we see about them when we start our cars.

Pedestrians and others are distracted as well. I saw a kid riding a bike a few weeks ago looking down at his phone for a good 50 yards, with traffic whizzing by.

But is it all distraction? The number of vehicles on our roads has gone up, and traffic is heavier. Speed limits have gone up, too. Years ago, it took me 8 to 10 minutes to drive from my office to Warren County Municipal Center. Now I am lucky if I can do it in 15 with heavier traffic through Queensbury.

Nothing is going to change until the masses realize there is a problem, and start taking personal responsibility. But unfortunately, it's not a priority for most until someone they know is hurt or worse by a distracted driver.

-- Don Lehman



Don Lehman covers crime and Warren County government for The Post-Star. His work can be found on Twitter @PS_CrimeCourts and on poststar.com/app/blogs.

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