This, unfortunately, is why in 2008 we won’t be able to use cell phones in our cars in California.

A Mercer Island man fiddling with his BlackBerry was cruising down Interstate 5’s express lanes Tuesday morning in his minivan, oblivious that traffic ahead had come to a dead stop.

What happened next “could have been horribly tragic,” said Washington State Patrol spokesman Jeff Merrill.

The 53-year-old man’s minivan smashed into a car, setting off a chain reaction that included three other cars and a Community Transit bus, which was carrying 28 passengers.

No one was seriously injured, but the accident near downtown Seattle underscores the dangers of driving while preoccupied with electronic gadgets, other passengers and even “driver grooming,” according to a state study.