Smartphone apps are making us dumber drivers. According to a new survey, 25 percent of smartphone-owning motorists say they use apps while behind the wheel.
What's worse is that a small percentage of those surveyed are using smartphones while driving to watch movies, play games — and even get more apps.
The apps in heaviest use are easy to guess: GPS programs, Facebook, Twitter, e-mail and text messaging. Texting while driving is already recognized as a huge problem nationwide, and it's something that can be done from any cell phone; no smartphone required.
In case the severity of the subject wasn't already clear, 38 percent of those polled say they have been hit or "nearly hit" by a driver distracted by their cell phone.
Nationwide Insurance company's June survey of 1,004 drivers ages 18 and older is not a definitive look at the issue, but does offer insight into this new category of driver distraction. Complete survey findings will be released Thursday. (The poll was conducted by Harris Interactive.)
The iPhone alone has more than 225,000 apps available. A survey last fall by AppsFire of 1,200 iPhone owners found that the "average" owner has downloaded 65 apps.
“The number of Americans who multitask by using a mobile application while driving becomes more troubling as the market for feature phones and applications steadily grows,” said Bill Windsor, Nationwide’s associate vice president for Consumer Safety, in a statement.
“This summer alone, a multitude of new-generation cell phones — including the new iPhone — will hit the market offering more features to multitask on the go.”
While the iPhone may lead the way with the volume of apps, BlackBerrys, Palms, Android- and Windows Mobile-based phones also run plenty of programs.
A frightening 3 percent of those surveyed said that, while driving, they use their cell phones to download mobile apps. Three percent also said they watch TV on their phones while driving; 2 percent said they watch videos and 2 percent said they play games on their devices.