Teens increasingly "apping" while driving, study shows

CBS 19's Taeler De Haes takes a look at distracted driving in Tyler.

TYLER - Teens are not slowing down on texting while driving, but now, the focus is on "apping" behind the wheel. A study from Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) showed teens do not view app usage while driving as distracting.

Seventy percent of teens in the study said they used apps while driving. It's no surprise teens people are attached to their phones, but the study also pointed out 80 percent of teens do not think apps are distracting while behind the wheel.

"Anything that takes your mind off driving is a distraction," said Donald Hickman, a tow truck operator at Isaac's Wrecker Services in Tyler.

Working in the business for twenty years, he said he has seen it all when it comes to distractions while driving from applying makeup to dance parties. Hickman pointed out several totaled cars in the lot as examples of what can happen when sending a text just cannot wait.

A distraction is defined as texting, eating, talking to passengers and even adjusting the radio, according to Distraction.gov.

Tyler Police Department spokesperson Don Martin said there are 60 wrecks per month on average resulting from some kind of distraction while driving. There have been 17 wrecks this month.

Martin said Tyler has between 300 and 400 wrecks per month on average, making distracted driving wrecks a low percentage in the city.

The most common culprits for stealing the eyes of drivers are map apps, according to authors of the joint study.

"If you've got to take your hand off the wheel where you find you're going to the map, you're not paying attention to what you're doing," Hickman said. "It only takes a split second for something to go wrong and take somebody's life."

It takes five seconds on average to text. If you are going 55 mph, you would have enough time cover the length of a football field blindfolded, according to Distraction.gov.

In Texas, there is a ban on all cell phone usage - including hands-free - for those in their first year of driving. After that, there is no ban on cell usage.

"Pay attention to what you're doing. If you're driving a car, that's 2000 pounds of force behind you. That could kill you and potentially the lives of others," Hickman said.

(© 2016 KYTX)


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