Distracted driving is becoming one of the deadliest hazards on the road today, causing nearly 400,000 injuries and more than 3,400 deaths during 2016. For teens, the smartphone is the equivalent of alcohol or a drug, because the device is deadly when used behind the wheel. An always present phone, combined with inexperience and a youthful feeling of invincibility is the reason why younger drivers are at the highest risk for a crash. According to the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “teens were the largest age group reported as distracted at the time of fatal crashes.”
While every driver is at risk for distractions—even changing the radio can cause a crash—teens and newly-licensed drivers may be more susceptible. With smartphones dominating the way many teens communicate, that convenient mobile device is almost always by their side. However, behind the wheel, the buzzing, beeping, glowing phone could pose a fatal distraction…especially when certain apps are on those phones.
However, there are many driving apps that parents and teens can use to make driving safer and smarter. Some apps are used to help teens understand how to drive more safely—they may track speed or braking. Others like EverDrive score drivers in several categories like speed, maneuvering and even phone use. The info can be used to discuss with teens about their driving habits…or even confront them about phone use.
While safe driving apps can help make the road less dangerous for every driver, there are also bad apples within the app stores. Teen drivers may be especially prone to the alerts popping up from their most-used apps. So what are the driving app facts about the most alluring—and potentially distracting– apps in the stores?
Poison Apps: Detours for Distraction
While every task that takes our eyes off the road is considered a distraction, there are many apps that teens have on their phones that are the demons of distraction. These apps are little lures of temptation for teens that need to keep their eyes on the road:
Teens love Insta! This app allows users to chronicle their life in photos. And while the latest selfie outside of school is alluring, you do not want an Insta alert to pop up on a teen’s phone during drive time.
Snapchat lets users send quick pics and messages to friends. Snapchat is all the rage for many teens, and the notifications from friends might be too much to resist while focusing on the road. Because once the chat or snap is sent and viewed, it disappears. Snapchat is the ultimate app to instill the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO).
According to Business Insider, Spotify was one of the most popular apps among teens in 2016. Spotify lets you stream music, check out your friend’s favorite music and find the right tune for any moment. Perfect for the day, but this could be a huge distraction during drive time.
Teens still use Twitter, although it’s not as beloved as Snapchat and Instagram. Tweeting is the same as texting, but tweets are cool or important enough to be sent during a drive.
Teen Can’t Stay off the Phone? There’s an App for that, too!
Many teens can’t cut the tether of technology easily, and, in many cases, parents may need to utilize safe driving apps to lock down the device during drive time. Before installing any disabling app on a teen’s phone, though, parents should communicate this decision up front and in the driving contract. If a teen doesn’t agree to have the app installed, then it’s up to parents to decide if driving privileges need to be suspended. Safety comes first.
Safe driving app fact: disabling apps are the wave of the future, and their use is an easy way to pause a phone and turn off the distraction. All iPhone devices include a feature within iOS11 that allows the phone to be disabled during drive time; this ‘Do Not Disturb’ function sends a message to anyone who calls or texts that the driver is unavailable. Other apps like AT&T’s DriveMode also stop the buzz of texts and the ring of a phone call.
Focus by TeenDrive takes the distractions away completely. Focus locks down a teen’s phone so that no texts or phone calls pop up to distract them. Teens can still make emergency phone calls, however. Parents can view a teen’s location and also block specific apps. This app also will soon allow parents to receive alerts about their teen’s driving behaviors. So how does it work? Parents must install a Focus Beacon within the car. Once the app detects the beacon, the phone immediately disables.
Safe driving apps are the future for the road. There are apps to analyze driving habits and apps to lock down a teen’s phone. However, there are also many apps that may pose huge distractions for teens, and parents need to be mindful. Keeping teens safe on the road requires that parents outline the expectations and stipulations of the driving privilege. Write a safe driving contract and be sure it includes a section about distracted driving. Teens should know that if they can’t be trusted with technology in the car, then their phone is going to be turned off somehow—and there is an app for THAT!