BOSTON (CBS) – Ask teens about texting behind the wheel and it is clear they are getting the message that it is dangerous. But a new study conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), found that teens don’t feel the same way about apps. Think of it as “apping while driving.”
The study found that nearly 70% of teens surveyed admitted to using apps while driving and nearly 80% believe apps are not distracting. “We really think it’s this fear of missing out or, FOMO, as we’ve been calling it,” explained Dr. William Horrey, one of the safety researchers at Liberty Mutual.
To demonstrate just how dangerous it can be, Dr. Horrey took 17-year-old Samantha Garcia of North Hampton for a spin on a test track in Hopkinton. He watched as she tried to program her navigation app.
Our cameras clearly showed the app repeatedly drawing her eyes away from the road, nearly a dozen times in just a few seconds. “Even a short glance away from the roadway can have a profound impact on your ability to respond. You really become susceptible to missing critical traffic information,” Dr. Horrey explained.
Samantha agreed that using the app while she was driving made her feel uneasy. “I feel like I shouldn’t be doing it because my eyes are off the road and I’m not really going straight,” she said.
A psychiatrist at Mass General and consultant to SADD, Dr. Gene Beresin believes this study is different because it was conducted using a series of visual tests to measure what the teens believe rather than what they say. “If you ask kids ‘Are you going to use their apps?’ they say well that’s dangerous. But in the moment, something happens,” he said.
The study’s authors suggest keeping the phone out of reach at all times. This works for adults, too. Parents should also remember that even a quick glance at a work email at a stoplight can send the wrong message.