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The arduous, Sisyphean task of putting your phone down has proven so difficult that distracted driving has now become one of the most pressing road safety concerns. Many states are now passing new laws to curb distracted driving, and some of the biggest names in the auto industry are developing technologies which may help prevent drivers from operating their vehicles while under the influence of electronics. In a sign of just how pressing the distracted driving problem has become, New Jersey has announced that distracted driving was the overall leading cause of fatal crashes in the Garden State. Is it time we seriously begin addressing the issue of distracted driving?

The New Jersey Department of Transportation issued a report which cites distracted driving as the cause of 217 of the 570 fatal crashes recorded in 2016, the most recent year for which such data is available. That makes the fourth straight year in which distracted driving outranked all other causes of fatal auto accidents.

Many app developers and automakers are now looking into ways to make using the phone in the car less distracting. However, even those aren’t likely to end the problem of distracted driving once and for all. New Jersey State Police spokesperson Sgt. Jeffrey Flynn says that while the main cause of distracted driving is smartphone use, the definition of distracted driving encompasses a wide range of behaviors drivers regularly engage in:

Distracted driving can be a number of different things, it’s not just texting or talking on cell phones“It can be anything that takes your attention away from driving, yelling at the kids, changing the radio station or putting on make-up.

One day we’ll all look back and laugh at the days when we had to put our phones down to drive – or, well, do anything for that matter. Self-driving vehicles will surely be the end of humans having to take the wheel for themselves, meaning car time is about to be phone time. Like nearly all other time. All is phone, phone is all.

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