Can texting and driving app change dangerous teen driving behavi - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Can texting and driving app change dangerous teen driving behaviors?


6,000 people die each year because someone picked up their phone while they were driving.

Texting and driving puts the lives of everyone on the road at risk. Teens who text and drive are nearly 25 percent more likely to be involved in a crash.

AAA recently released a study that highlights just how bad the problem is.

The study shows teen drivers took their eyes off of the road for an average of four-point-one seconds to look at their phones before they crashed. That means if a driver is traveling 55 mph, they went nearly 331 feet - farther than the length of a football field - without ever glancing at where they're going.

“This was ground-breaking research because there was a dash cam that was recording as the teens were in accidents,” said AAA spokesperson Cheryl Parker.

[Watch: Crash after crash, dash cam video shows distracted teen drivers]

For parents of inexperienced drivers, texting a recipe for potential disaster.

"First child driving there's a lot of anxiety,” said Geniene Delahunty, whose 17-year old son James knows the rules when he gets behind the wheel.

“They expect me not to text and drive. Not to do anything on my phone while I'm driving,” said James Delahunty.

But even he admits he's tempted by his phone when he's behind the wheel.

"Yes, I have,” James admitted when FOX19 NOW'S Amy Wagner asked him if he's guilty of texting and driving. "Just when I'm stopped at a stop light I always pick it up once in a while."

Stevie Whelpley, a high school senior, readily admits that when he gets a text while driving.

"I feel bad not replying so I just text them back,” he said.

The Whelpley and Delahunty families both download a distracted driving app called ‘Canary' and tested it for one week. Canary sends alerts to parents about their driver's location, speed and phone use.

A parent can downloads the app on their own phone and set up an account. They then downloads it on their child's phone.

“Personally, I really don't like it," said 17-year old James Delahunty,

But mom disagreed, saying the alerts gave her the chance to have a meaningful conversation with her son whether it was about texting or speeding.

"It makes me feel like I am with him and if something happens I want to be the first to know."

And in the Whelpley house, Katie Whelpley, who also recently started driving, was surprised.

“I was like oh my goodness, looking at how many times not even thinking about it you pick up your phone and unlock it,” said Katie.

Mom says the app gave her an accurate picture of what was going on when she wasn't in the car with her kids. Now she hopes to put the brakes on bad, potentially dangerous habits.

“I think we're going to have to back it up and we're going to have to be consistent with punishment for it instead of just saying it is something we do,” said Beth Whelpley.

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