Monday, December 7, 2009

Upwardly Mobile

As readers of Why We Make Mistakes know, multi-tasking is usually a bad idea. It's an especially bad idea when you are behind the wheel of a car. Talking on a cell phone or texting while you are driving dramatically increases your chances of an accident. But we do it anyway because, among other reasons, we are overconfident about our abilities to multi-task.

For some interesting history about how we got to this point, see the page-one story by Matt Richtel in today's New York Times. As the article notes:

"Long before cellphones became common, industry pioneers were aware of the risks of multitasking behind the wheel. Their hunches have been validated by many scientific studies showing the dangers of talking while driving and, more recently, of texting.

"Despite the mounting evidence, the industry built itself into a $150 billion business in the United States largely by winning over a crucial customer: the driver."

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