From the Good Morning Silicon Valley blog:
Simple common sense should tell us that trying to text while driving is as stupid and dangerous as trying to crochet. We shouldn’t need a bunch of studies calculating and quantifying the risk to goad us into a response, but if that’s what it takes, here’s the latest. A Virginia Tech study that outfitted the cabs of long-haul trucks with video cameras found that when the drivers were texting, their collision risk was 23 times greater than when they had their attention on the road — a figure far higher than the estimates coming out of lab research and a rate by far more dangerous than other driving distractions. And at the University of Utah, research on college students using driving simulators showed texting raised the crash risk by eight times. The variance in the figures is beside the point. “You’re off the charts in both cases,” said Utah professor David Strayer. “It’s crazy to be doing it.”
And the heck of it is, people already know that and they keep doing it anyway.
This is a near-perfect example of how most humans are geniuses at rationalization: yes, I know it's dangerous, but I'll be careful and do it just this time, because I really need to let the office know where that file is. Oh wait, they've got another question. Well, it would be more dangerous to wait and put the phone down, so I'll just– dammit, can't the kids find anything by themselves? Okay, now I'll make up for it by really focusing on the road.
It's also a nice example of the kinds of dissonance created when we take practices and technologies designed for one use context, and move it into another– a phenomenon that mobile technologies makes increasingly common. It was hard to take a Macintosh SE or IBM PC Junior on the road; a smartphone, on the other hand, is a perfect storm of transportable, always-on, and just usable enough when you're doing other things to be dangerous.