Rise in traffic deaths may be due to app usage while driving

Teens and adults are both likely to be distracted by items on their phones.


GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – While distracted driving is nothing new, 2016 has seen the biggest spike in traffic deaths in 50 years, and the rise may be due to the apps people use every day.

Liberty Mutual and SADD reported a decrease in texting and driving, but an increase in driving and using apps.

Greenville resident Ryan Shumar said many of his friends drive around town with the wheel in one hand and a phone in the other.

“I feel like apps can almost be most distracting than texting just because it depends on what the app is,” said Shumar.

While 70 percent of teens admit to using apps while they’re behind the wheel, nearly 80 percent believe apps aren’t a distraction.

“Anything that takes your eyes off the road is distracting.”

From Snapchat, to Facebook, to Pokemon Go, many accidents around the country are attributed to drivers using apps.

In North Carolina, driving while using an app — like Google Maps — isn’t technically against the law.

“It’s still dangerous, and it could lead to violations such as left of center or failure to maintain lane control,” said Doug Coley, a trooper with N.C. Highway Patrol.

Teens and young adults aren’t the only ones using apps. Adults are just as likely to be distracted by items on their phone than items on the road.

In the first six months of 2016, highway deaths jumped 10.4 percent, nationwide. Officers believe new distractions could be a contributing factor.

“I always tell them to get off their phones,” said Shumer. “Not only am I in the car, but they’re also my friends, so I care for their safety.”