Any traffic death is tragic. They often emerge from uncontrollable circumstances, carelessness, bad timing or a combination of any or all of them.

We were once again reminded of the dangers of using a cellphone while behind the wheel. This week we learned a fatal crash earlier this summer that killed an 8-year-old Union County boy was probably preventable. Police have charged Roger L. Kline, of Beaver Springs, with two third-degree felonies after he told first responders he was looking at his cellphone when he rear-ended another vehicle in a violent crash in July.

The details behind the crash are difficult to read. According to court documents, the investigation into the crash — which included tracing data taken from the vehicles’ computer systems — showed Kline didn’t brake until about a half-second before impact. The vehicle was traveling nearly 53 mph at impact, arrest papers state.

Investigators found that Kline had 1,211 feet of unobstructed view — nearly a quarter-mile — prior to the point of impact.

“I was looking down at my phone and when I looked back up the blue car was there and I hit it,” police quoted Kline as having said at the accident scene.

The legal system will deal with things from here. But an 8-year-old boy who was riding home with his family has died. No amount of justice can change that.

The National Highway Safety Transportation Association reported that 3,142 people were killed by distracted drivers in 2019, the last year data is available. According to the NHSTA, “Texting is the most alarming distraction. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.”

Two dozen states prohibit all drivers from using handheld cellphones while driving; Pennsylvania is not among that list according to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association. Forty-eight states, including Pennsylvania, do have a ban on texting while driving.

This is a message we should all understand by now. Young drivers are taught the dangers of distracted driving. Older, more experienced drivers should know better.

How many more times do we have to read the same headlines, get the pit in our stomach?

Nothing — we repeat — nothing is so important that it can’t wait for you to stop. If it can’t wait until you reach your destination, pull over and make the call or answer the text.

NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Today’s was written by Managing Editor Bill Bowman.

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