Distracting Young Drivers? There Are Lots of Apps for That

Phone apps used while drivingDistracted driving has been a growing problem since cellphones came into wide use. Now, new research shows that among the young, the proliferation of mobile devices and the explosion of apps they have spawned have made the problem much worse. The University of Alabama Youth Safety Lab reports that mobile apps have become a particular danger to young drivers.

"The technology is evolving so rapidly that science hasn't caught up to looking at the effects that mobile app usage can have behind the wheel of a car," wrote researcher Lauren McCartney. "But something needs to be done because in psychological terms, Internet use involves substantial cognitive and visual distraction that exceeds talking or texting, making it much more dangerous."

The research also shows that among survey respondents, one in 10 "often," "almost always" or "always" use mobile apps. Another third use apps "sometimes" while driving.

The study results shouldn't come as any surprise. Smartphone use has exploded in the U.S., and is by far the fastest-growing portion of the handset market. Online research firm Comscore recently reported that "74.6 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones during the three months ending in April 2011, up 13 percent from the three-month period ending in January 2011." Smartphones using Google's (GOOG) Android OS and Apple (AAPL) iPhone dominated the market in April with 36.4% and 26% market share respectively.

A driving force of smartphone growth -- and perhaps the most important one -- is use of apps. Apple has more than 425,000. Google's competing app arsenal, while an order of magnitude smaller, continues to grow quickly.

The apps revolution was propelled by the rapid deployment of high speed 3G connected devices. Imagine what will happen as 4G is widely adopted: The risks for young drivers -- and the danger they pose to others -- are only likely to increase.

Gallery: AOL Readers' Tales of Distracted Drivers
Distracted Drivers

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Check out this app -- it's what parents have been needing!! Canary is an app for iPhones and Android parents phones that just came out. It alerts immediately when their teens use their smartphones while on the road. www.thecanaryproject.com

November 19 2012 at 9:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


June 29 2011 at 8:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Young drivers should be restricted from driving until THEY OUTGROW their fascination with smart phone technology.
Somewhere between 20 and 25 yrs I'd suggest. Also, think of the fossil fuel that would save and lower fuel costs.

June 29 2011 at 8:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is the reason that cell phones should be banned when driving. Kids do not have the experience to drive in ALL conditions, much less when using a cell phone too. As far as a law goes, First offense, $200.00 fine. Second Offense, $500.00 fine and 30 day suspension of license. Third Offense, $1000.00 fine and six month suspension of license. Fourth Offense, $1500.00 fine, loss of phone and one year suspension of license. Addition offenses, an increase of $500.00 fine and loss of license permenately. Enough is enough with all the distractions on the road. If the states actually put some tough laws and penalties into effect there wouldn't be a problem.

June 28 2011 at 11:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Hang up and pay 100% attention to driving. I ride a motorcycle 17,000 miles a year in about a 9 month period,( Dec.-Feb.) off for the Chicago winters. If anyone on a cell phone or otherwise distracted hits me and I survive I will beat the crap out of them. That should prevent them from repeating their mistake.

June 28 2011 at 10:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It is not only the cell phone technology it is all the gadgets built into a car other then ignition key,brake peddle,wiper and headlight switch. All this in dash viewing drop down viewing,GPS systems built into the car ,car stereo systems with multiple discs. I still remember the day My son was following me down a major highway and his head kept dropping below the level of the dash. Once his head came above the dash and he was watching what was going on I pulled onto the shoulder and walked back. I asked why he kept dropping below the dash and not watching the road. The answwr I got was beautiful. "I was searching my collection of Cd's and tapes for something to listen to." My answer to that was "If i see your head drop again you will not have to worry about listening on the radio because your car won't have a radio to put tapes or CD's into. Then add it will be hard to pick tapes with both hands in a cast. " Problem solved I have never seen him repeat that mistake and when he travels he picks all his CD's that he wants to listen to and places them on the seat next to him for easy reach. He also will not talk on the phone while driving.

June 28 2011 at 10:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Once lawyers figure out how to make these cell phone companies liable for accidents,,,,,,.,.,.,.,.,.,..,problem solved!

June 28 2011 at 9:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Distractions while driving are definitely not limited to young drivers. I just finished a 7 hour drive and lost count of how many middle-aged or older people were on their phones.

June 28 2011 at 8:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Ok, if cell phones and all their apps are a distraction so are all of the signs along highways and city streets advertising and directing traffic. Today I counted 12 signs on a short exit ramp...AND that includes construction signage!

June 28 2011 at 8:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bryan Citrowkse

If these smart phone were so smart they should have programmed them to cut off all funtions except GPS Nav and 911 when it is traveling over 5mph. I see kids riding around on their bike with there Cells out texting or talking now its beyond stupid.

June 28 2011 at 4:43 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply