Statistics show that distracted driving incidents have increased significantly in recent years. For instance, between the years 2014 and 2015, fatalities resulting from distracted driving increased by 8.8 percent. Does Snapchat, a seemingly harmless, popular app among teens, play a role in encouraging distracted driving?
In 2016, a reckless driver accelerating to a speed of 115 mph lost control of his vehicle and ended up both losing his own life and killing a mother, her two children, a 19 year old passenger, and injuring three people after crossing a median and hitting a minivan nearly head-on. Moments before this deadly crash, the reckless driver and his passenger posted a 10-second video on Snapchat documenting their reckless driving through the speed-filter feature on Snapchat.
According to Pew Research Center, 92% of American teens report going online daily. Of these teens, 41% reported that they use Snapchat. Why is this concerning in relation to distracted driving? To begin, distracted driving is defined as “… any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving”. A study by AT&T found that a shocking 70% of drivers use their smartphones while driving. As of 2015, the same study found that 11% of drivers admitted to using Snapchat while driving. The number of users, as well as the amount of content published, on Snapchat has only been increasing over the last couple of years. Thus, with features such as a speed-filter that lets users boast the speeds they are driving at to friends, Snapchat has been at the center of various distracted driving cases. Using social media while driving is incredibly dangerous and can evidently, as witnessed by the unfortunate reckless driving incident spurred by the appeal of Snapchat’s speed-filter, result in the loss of lives and permanent physical damage.
One only has to look at statistics displaying the rise of distracted driving incidents in recent years to feel that all necessary and potential measures should be taken to protect people from the unneeded and life-changing effects of distracted driving. Whether Snapchat has legal liability and responsibility to not encourage stupid and reckless driving or not is at contention as shown by various lawsuits and still ongoing petitions. However, from a common-sense, logical, and moral standpoint, one should be able to conclude that the speed-filter logically provides no legitimate benefits in comparison to the harms it can cause on the general public. After all, what real, logical purpose does a filter which states what speed your phone is going at serve and how can one even first snap a pic at high speeds without risking one’s safety? Posts by the Huffington Post, CBS, and FoxNews all portray voices and sentiments that advocate for more general caution, awareness, and a sense of moral responsibility from Snapchat and those that drive distractedly.
Thus, to help protect both your own life and the lives of those driving with or near you, please remember to not access your smartphones while driving. Sending a quick snap or testing the limits of filters may seem like harmless fun in the moment but in the blink of an eye can result in countless lives being lost, ruined, and changed forever.
If you or someone you know or care for has been injured as the result of a car, truck, bicycle or motorcycle crash and you believe the driver who caused the crash was “distracted” using their cell phone and/or texting, and there are questions about what laws apply, e-mail or call us at ABRAMS LANDAU, Ltd. (703-796-9555) at once.