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Are You Apping While Driving?

It's not just texting and driving, but teens are also apping and driving more than ever. Close to 80% of teenagers surveyed view app use while driving as "not distracting".

Are You Apping While Driving?

The “It Can Wait” campaign is centered around cautioning drivers about the dangers of texting and driving with the motto, “keep your eyes on the road and not on your phone.” While this message is still very important, Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD conducted some research on teen driving habits that shed light on a new danger.

Teens are apping and driving more than ever

The traditional explicit part of the survey reported that 27% of teens say they still text and drive and 95% acknowledged that app usage behind the wheel was dangerous. 58% of teens admitted to using navigation apps on the road, even though 41% of them stated that using navigation apps was dangerous and distracting. More than 64% of teens said that using music apps was dangerous and distracting, 46% admitted to using them.

80% of teens viewed app use while driving as “not distracting.”

The second part of the survey was done as an implicit association test, which is where respondents were shown “a picture of the road and flash on a picture of a navigation or music app and words pop up that say ‘safe,’ ‘dangerous,’ ‘fun,’ and they have to immediately click on one.” The test was created to assess what the teen feels and believes in that moment, which in turn drives behavior. During the implicit testing, 80% of teens viewed app use while driving as “not distracting.” Beresin, senior advisor on adolescent psychiatry with SAAD and executive director of the Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital told Forbes in an interview that teens, “will see a music app or a notification on social media and they’ll feel in the moment that this is fun, this is not distracting and then they look at it.”

How to curb the dangerous behavior

Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD have come up with tips for parents to help change their teenage driver’s behavior and to recognize the dangers of being distracted by anything on their phone.

  • Hide the phone: ask your teen driver to keep the phone out of reach and on silent while they’re driving
  • Map it out: since navigation apps can be distracting, have your teen driver map their route before they get behind the wheel or pull over safely while they’re driving if they need to double check directions
  • Set expectations: Liberty Mutual offers a Teen Driving Contract as a conversation starter, to discuss safe driving with your teen

While adults are also guilty of apping and texting while driving, teens are more vulnerable because they have less experience behind the wheel. For tips on buying a safe car for your teen, check out this article.

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