Every year, 1.6 million car accidents in the U.S. involve the use of cell phones while driving. No longer limited to talking, texting, and emails, cell phone use on the road often means the use of cell phone apps, especially when young drivers are involved. Have you ever heard of Snapchatting?
Of all the apps used by teens while driving, Snapchat
is the most common. Teen drivers are more likely to use Snapchat than Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. A mobile messaging cell phone app, Snapchat allows users to send pictures and videos that self destruct within a few seconds of a recipient viewing them. This is called Snapchatting.
Snapchat is so popular that it boasts 100 million users daily worldwide.
Distracted Driving Is a Deadly Habit
The death toll from distracted driving car accidents is staggering. In 2014, distracted drivers were responsible for the deaths of over 3,100 people in the U.S.
Due to the overwhelming popularity of cell phones, they are considered one of the top distractions for drivers. Statistics show that the number of people using cell phones or other electronic devices while driving is approximately 660,000 at any given moment during daylight hours. Distracted driving can also include eating, disciplining kids, visiting with passengers, checking GPS, and any other activity that diverts a driver’s attention away from the task of driving.
Texting or talking on a cell phone while driving slows reaction times more than driving drunk or high. Although Pennsylvania law allows drivers to make or receive phone calls with a hands-free cell while driving, it prohibits texting, emailing, snapchatting, or sending any kind of messages via cell phone. Typically, texting takes a driver’s eyes off the road for about 5 seconds. At highway speeds, that’s the equivalent of driving blindfolded for the length of a football field!
Snapchatting and Car Accidents
Snapchat has recently come under fire for its popular speedometer filter, which allows a user to record and share how fast he is going when he takes a picture of himself with his cell phone. Critics claim that the filter motivates drivers to use Snapchat while driving at high speeds and compete with their friends to see who can record the highest speeds.
A recent lawsuit alleges that the Snapchat speed filter played a role in the September 2015 car accident that caused a traumatic brain injury to a driver in Georgia. According to the lawsuit, the victim was hit by an 18-year-old woman who was driving 107 mph so she could send a Snapchat to her friends.
One passenger in the woman’s car reported seeing her phone show 113 mph at some point prior to the collision. The crash did not deter the teen’s Snapchat use, however; she posted a Snapchat of her bloody face while she was in the back of the ambulance immediately following the crash. The victim is suing both the driver and Snapchat.
Snapchat is also the subject of an investigation into a fatal crash that occurred in Philadelphia on December 20, 2015. Three young women, all in their early 20s, were speeding down Torresdale Avenue when their car crashed into a tractor trailer containing herbicide and then exploded. Rescue was impossible due to the fire that consumed the car, and the three women burned to death.
Many people reported that one of the women posted several Snapchats leading up to the accident. Allegedly, the last Snapchat used the speed filter and showed the women traveling 73 mph in the car. Because Snapchat posts vanish and the women’s cell phones were destroyed in the car fire, investigators have not been able to definitively prove the source of the Snapchat posts from the night of the accident. You can read more about this accident in this 6ABC Action News article
As for Snapchat, the company maintains its innocence. They point out that their speed filter has a warning system for users. When a person first accesses their miles per hour feature, a pop-up message cautions the user not to use Snapchat while driving.
Preventing Snapchatting and Other Cell Phone Use While Driving
Distracted driving is a serious problem in our country, with hundreds of thousands of drivers using cell phones while operating vehicles every day. However, there are some ways to help prevent drivers from using cell phones.
The National Safety Council sponsors a “Take Back My Drive”
safety campaign in which a driver pledges not to drive distracted in any way. The pledge lists several prohibited cell phone activities including texting, taking pictures, and sending Snapchats.
A growing number of cell phone apps are available to discourage or prevent cell phone use while driving:
- Drive Beehive allows drivers to connect with sponsors who set rewards for safe miles driven. You can participate as either a driver or a sponsor.
- AT&T’s DriveMode blocks texts and phone calls while driving. It kicks in once the car is in motion and also has the ability to notify parents if a teenage driver shuts off the app.
- Wonder is another innovative app to help keep our roads safe. This app lets your contacts within the app know that you are driving your car which may keep them from reaching out to you with a text or phone call until your ride is over.
If You Have Been the Victim of a Car Accident
Every day, millions of American drivers disregard safety and the law by using their cell phones when they drive. A few seconds of distracted driving can cause a lifetime of pain and suffering.
If you or your loved ones have been the victims of a car accident, the attorneys of Donaghue & Labrum will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. We can protect you from the stresses of dealing with insurance companies, and we have decades of experience winning car accident cases. The attorneys of Donaghue & Labrum are here to help you and your family. Contact us today for a free consultation.