Survey: 68 percent of teens use apps while driving

As a new study from Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD points out, apps are especially dangerous in the hands of teen drivers

Chris Stewart/Dayton Daily News/AP/File
Student driver Kaitlin Kearns of Yellow Springs, Ohio takes a driving lesson from D&D Driving School instructor Bob White in 2013.

Analysts may be feeling bearish about Apple's lack of innovation on the iPhone front, but smartphones aren't going anywhere anytime soon--and neither are apps. 

On the one hand, that's a good thing, because many of us depend on those apps for navigation, communication, entertainment, and occasionally, work. 

On the other hand, some people like to use apps behind the wheel, which is a very dangerous thing. As a new study from Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) points out, apps are especially dangerous in the hands of teen drivers, 68 percent of whom use apps behind the wheel.

The study polled 5,150 teenagers at high schools across the U.S., and not surprisingly, it revealed that what teens say and what teens do can be two very different things. (Parents, don't gloat: we know all about you.) Here are a few of the key findings:

  • 95 percent of teens said that using an app while driving is dangerous, but 68 percent admitted that they used apps behind the wheel.
  • 64 percent of teens said that using music apps is dangerous when driving, but 46 percent admitted to using them.
  • 41 percent of teens said that using navigation apps is dangerous when driving, but 58 percent admitted to using them.  
  • 27 percent of teens say that they text while driving. That's roughly on par with stats from four years ago.
  • Perhaps most alarmingly, when asked to rank driving behaviors according to how distracting they were, roughly 80 percent of teen drivers viewed apps as "not distracting".

If you're a parent of a teen driver, researchers say that there are a couple of things you can do to keep your kid safe on the road. For example, 42 percent of teens surveyed said that they've texted while driving to get directions. If your kid is traveling somewhere new, ensure that he or she gets directions in advance. 

Also, 73 percent of teens surveyed said that they keep their phones handy when they're driving by themselves. Tell your teen to put the phone away and silence notifications to reduce the temptation to check texts and updates.

SADD offers other handy tips for drivers of all ages to address the problem of distracted driving.

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