David Strayer, professor of cognition and neural science in the University of Utah’s psychology department, specializes in distracted driving and says people readily put themselves in risky positions because “they tend to think they are the exception to the rule.” The National Safety Council, he notes, estimates that 28 percent of traffic accidents are caused by cell phones. But because people aren’t always honest when they provide information for police reports, some statistics show that as many as 80 percent of accidents are caused by someone using some sort of handheld technology.

“Pedestrians can be every bit as distracted as drivers when they are talking on their cell phones, and if they are doing that around cars or TRAX, they are at an ever greater risk,” he says. “The more you do it, the more you zone out. You’re successful only because other people are paying attention."