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FAMILY 411: Apps while driving

There's a lot more danger for teen driver than just texting and driving.

A study commissioned by Liberty Mutual Insurance says kids are so worried about missing out that they can't take their eyes off of their apps, even when they are behind the wheel.

Cameron Hollander's parents set down rules when he got his driver's license a few months ago, and he admits it's tough to put the smartphone away when he's behind the wheel.

"It's a part of me," Hollander said. "I use it all the time for school, snapchatting, social media. It's always on me. I never leave it behind.'

A lot of us feel that way about staying connected - so much that there's a term for it - Fear of Missing Out. But child experts like Dr. Robin Gurwitch say, for teenagers, especially, it's a real fear.

"So if their friends are texting and posting, and they're not there to comment or respond, they start to worry 'are they going to talk about me?'" Gurwitch said.

AAA driving instructor Mike Belcuore says, of course teens obey the rules at driving school - but he's seen plenty of Snapchat and Instagram posts that prove those rules pretty quickly go out the window.

"The day they get their license, they can all sit there and tell me they're not going to do it, but there will be someone who takes a selfie while they're driving and posts, 'Look what I just got,'" Belcuore said.

In fact, a study by Liberty Mutual and a student driving group shows 88 percent of teens who consider themselves "safe" drivers - use apps while driving. That's especially dangerous for inexperienced drivers. Distractions are a top cause of teen crashes. Hollander's already had a close call himself.

"And a person took a left turn on their phone, and I had to weave into the other lanes," he said.

Belcuore calls it an "everybody problem" and says parents need to model good driving behavior.

"By the time they get to us they've spent 15 and a half, 16 years with their parents," he said. "Even the small things like rolling through a stop sign and not stopping completely, the kids pick up that habit."

Belcuore said he thinks putting down the cell phone will become habit some day - like seat belt use is today. But it means shaping those good habits long before kids get behind the wheel. Hollander said he does it because he does have good role models.

"I don't want to disappoint my parents, and I don't want to get in a crash because of a stupid mistake," he said.

There are free apps to available that turn off texting while driving.

But driving instructors say it's even more important for kids to have consequences if they do it, like getting driving privileges taken away for a while.

To access a contract for parents and their teens drivers to help hold them accountable for safe driving, visit http://teendriving.aaa.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Parent.Teen_.Driving.Agreement.pdf.

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