Talk of the Nation looks at whether the distractions of in-car Internet will add to driving's dangers: They aren't even looking at whether or not you are manipulating devices while driving; rather, whether the increased distraction even with voice recognition software for handling tasks is a danger on the order of talking on the mobile or texting.
It's an ugly truth proved repeatedly and extensively in the lab that hands-free devices don't reduce the dangers of talking on a cell phone. The act of talking with a remote person is what causes your brain to work differently; it's not motor functions, but higher functions, that add to the risk.
A researcher in this field, Nicholas Ashford at MIT, said on the program, "...interactive communication technology, which is the kind that's being put in the automobiles now, is even more demanding of higher-level visual and audio functioning, and so it doesn't take a brain surgeon to realize the brain is compromised." He also said, "There's two freedoms to be balanced: the freedom to do anything in your automobile, which I would argue should be less clear than doing whatever you want in your home. But there's also a freedom from harm for your passengers, for the pedestrians, and these freedoms have to be balanced."
Ashford also noted on the issue of talking on the phone at all, "The evidence shows very clearly that whether it's hands-free or it isn't hands-free, there is a significant, a four-fold increase in accident potential."
A caller notes that he's a much safer driver using Ford's system because it lets him focus on the road, but Ashford differentiates between anecdote and statistics.
Multi-tasking is a myth that our brain does a great job to foster.
(Graphic above from the NPR show Car Talk, the hosts of which have been far out in front of the issue of talking while driving. I've seen the less polite bumpersticker, too: "Shut Up and Drive.")