Can you hold a conversation with the person in the seat beside you, or in the seat behind you? Can you keep up with what your children are doing in the backseat and admonish them when they do something wrong? Can you listen to, and maybe even sing along with, a song on the radio? Have you ever listened to, or talked to anyone on a CB radio? If you can do any of these things then you have the mental capability to both drive and talk on a cell phone.
What it comes down to is that the ability to divide your concentration onto more than one task at a time and talk on a cell phone is no different than it is in any of the above mentioned, everyday tasks. Like I stated originally, some folks can't walk and chew gum, so any of the above mentioned tasks are well above what they have the ability to do. "They" say that you can't train yourself to do these kinds of things, but I can tell you when I started handling the duties of the watch I described above, it was a lot harder to keep track of everything than it was several months in, and by the end of a year or so I was quite proficient. Granted I wasn't 'trained' by anyone, it was just a matter of being put in the situation and having you adapt your thought process to handle it.
As far as it being different than something jumping out in front of you, that's nothing more than the ability to prioritize the tasks your performing and change the priority of those tasks at any given time. Think about this. When you've got half a dozen people, or more, that can give you, or anyone else in the space an order (via you) at any given time, a wall full of gauges that you have to monitor and let others know when they get out of spec, keep an eye on the time to accurately log the status of all equipment in the plant as it gets shutdown, started, or anything else, plus keep an eye on a wall full of gauges and notify other watchstanders both in and out of the space when one gets out of spec, and log all of that, and then do anything else required to keep the plant operational or get through a casualty, it is MULTITASKING at it's most extreme. To do all of that at once means you have to keep all of your different tasks prioritized, and change those priorities in a split second to insure everything gets taken care of.
To do otherwise, especially in a casualty situation, could easily mean the loss of, or damage to, millions of dollars worth of equipment, or worse. Thing is when your dealing with steam running at 1200 psi and 900 plus degrees, it also means that a misstep by the person tasked with all of those responsibilities can easily mean the death of the watch stander involved with that equipment.
The ability to drive, talk, eat, listen to the radio, or any one of the million other things people routinely do in their vehicles, is nothing more than multitasking, just like I have been describing. The responsibility, and abilities involved to pay attention, prioritize, and do all the things needing done is no lesser or greater, just because your in a vehicle.
To give you even more to think about. As I said earlier, "They" say the ability to multitask can't be trained, and to be honest I agree. I know for me it took doing it to learn to handle it. Before I got that watch I had seen others do it and wondered how they could handle so many things at the same time, but they did it, and made it look easy. That said, while us civilians supposedly aren't smart enough, or have the ability to even talk on a cell phone, (which by the way doesn't require taking your eyes off the road), those given the responsibility to 'keep us safe from ourselves" (ie the police) now have computers in their car. In years past they radioed a suspects info in and got his report back on them that way. Nowdays they have a computer in their cars. In other words when one pulls in behind you and wants to know more about you, he had to take his eyes off the road to type in the info on your tag, etc, and then look at, and read the screen to get the info he requested. Now, please tell me, who "taught" that officer to drive, and be any safer performing a task that requires him to take his eyes off the road, than we are talking on a cell phone that doesn't?
In the end it's all about having the ability to multitask, know when that ability is exceeded, and the smarts to remedy the situation before things become unsafe.
If you have that much common sense then you can easily drive and talk on the phone, listen to and sing along with your radio, keep up with your newborn who is facing backwards in the back seat, admonish your older kids when they act up, and talk to your spouse in the seat beside you.....
What no one can do is reach down into the floorboard to get their phone when they drop it, or do anything else like that that causes them to give 100% of their attention to the task at hand because not only can they not see the road, they couldn't turn the wheel, or hit the brake, or anything else for that matter, because they aren't sitting properly in the seat. Nor can they spend 5 minutes looking down at their phone typing/texting instead of looking at the phone. Those are the kinds of things that cause the majority of accidents, not someone simply talking on the phone. That said, read the caption with the photos in the link. Basically the person that ran off the bridge wasn't talking, they leaned down to get their phone, or something to that effect...regardless it's completely different than simply holding a conversation.....