Study: Teen Drivers Now Using Apps Instead Of Texting Behind The Wheel

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Teens say they are texting less when they are behind the wheel, but that doesn’t mean young drivers have stopped using their phones. Their attention has now turned to apps.

Ask teens about texting behind the wheel and it’s clear, they are getting the message that’s it’s dangerous.

But a new study conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD found that teens don’t feel the same way about apps.

The study found that nearly 70 percent of teens surveyed admitted to using apps while driving, and nearly 80 percent believe apps are not distracting.

Dr. William Horrey is a researcher at Liberty Mutual and took 17-year-old Samantha Garcia for a spin on a test track to show her how distracting it can be.

The most common app used by teens are music and navigation. The cameras clearly show how the navigation app repeatedly pulled her eyes away from the road.

“Even a short glance away from the roadway can have a profound impact on your ability to respond,” Horrey said.

“I feel like I shouldn’t be doing it because my eyes are off the road and I’m not really going straight,” Garcia said.

And it’s not just inexperienced drivers. Adults are also easily distracted.

Dr. Horrey took CBS News reporter Breana Pitts out on the test track and observed as she was programming a navigation app.

“Often times you don’t look up long enough to really get an idea of what you’re doing,” Horrey said.

Experts say parents should encourage teens to program their navigation apps before they start driving, and to pull over if they feel they need to use other apps.

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