The killers on the highways use smartphones

It seems highly unlikely that the genie can be put back in the bottle where drivers with smartphones are concerned. Nothing seems to have gotten through to drivers that they might kill someone if they focus more on the little screen than what’s happening out the front window.

A truck driver in Lake Elmo undoubtedly has seen all the warnings and public service announcements telling us this is a bad idea, but there he was on Highway 36 and Lake Elmo Avenue on Tuesday, texting with his girlfriend and looking at Zillow, according to KSTP.

Most of us, I suspect, have looked briefly at a phone or message, which makes it all that much harder to stigmatize the activity no matter how many people are slaughtered on the highway.

It’s only a few seconds, still plenty of time to see what’s ahead. And that’s the takeaway from this tragedy, according to the complaint: He had only looked away for 8 seconds, the Pioneer Press says.

But that was long enough for his semi-truck, at 63 mph, to barrel into a Toyota stopped at a traffic light, killing 54-year-old Robert Bursik of Amery, Wis.

It’s all hindsight now, of course. The house could have waited. The girlfriend could have waited. It all seems so simple now. Just put down the phone and drive.

If only someone had told us, the lives of two families wouldn’t be ruined forever.

Minnesota law by the way, provides for a $50 fine for drivers caught using a smartphone. $225 the second time.

Efforts to toughen the law have gone nowhere at the Minnesota Capitol, where former legislator Tony Cornish wouldn’t even give a bill a hearing last year.

“Even in the documents that were handed out, there is no clear, hard evidence that it reduces death or injures,” Cornish told the Star Tribune.

“The only ones that really urged me was the author or someone from one of these coalitions,” he said.

Yes, the dastardly coalitions who don’t want innocent people killed by drivers who are house hunting.

The nerve.