It’s actually interesting that they conducted a study on exactly how dangerous texting while driving is compared to other tasks. The study was conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. In reading their results (PDF), I was actually surprised just how dangerous texting is compared to the other distracting tasks. The highest risk before texting in a light vehicle was 2.8 for dialing while driving, and the risk for texting jumps up to 23.2.
The institute says that the tasks that have the most risk are the ones that require the driver to take his eyes off the road. Which makes sense. I guess texting would be that dangerous since it could have your eyes off the road for quite a while. The study estimated an average of 4.6 seconds in which the driver isn’t focused on the road. The institute recommends these tasks should always be avoided.
They also recommend that texting be banned from all drivers in moving vehicles, and that all cell phone use must be banned from new driving teens because they use cell phones more.