Distracted driving poses a great danger to anyone who uses the road: other drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, and the distracted driver. While it is illegal to text or use your smartphone for anything other than talking in many states, cell phones are implicated in 1.6 million car accidents across the U.S. every year.
Teenage drivers are especially likely to break the rules while driving–in part because they simply may not understand how dangerous it really is to take your eyes or your mind off the road even for a few seconds. Snapchat is an app that poses a particular threat for teenage drivers. Snapchat is a social app that allows the user to send photos and videos to friends that will automatically disappear from their phone forever after a few seconds of receiving them. Snapchat is the most common app that young drivers use behind the wheel, exceeding that of other social apps such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The app is used by 188 million unique users every day.
Distracted Driving Kills
It is fair to say that distracted driving has reached epidemic proportions. A recent statistic shows that more than 3,000 people are killed as a result of distracted driving in the U.S. every year, while many more are injured. Of course, there are other forms of distracted driving besides cell phone usage that contribute to these statistics–eating, grooming, playing with the radio, and interacting with passengers are all dangerous driving behaviors. However, the frequency with which drivers are interfacing with smartphones while driving is frightening.
Studies show that approximately 650,000 drivers are using cell phones on the roads at any given time during daylight hours, and using a phone while driving impairs your reaction time even more significantly than alcohol and drugs. Texting while driving takes your attention off of the road so fully that it is as dangerous as driving with your eyes closed for the length of a football field. This is a particularly disturbing reality for defensive drivers as there is virtually no way to protect yourself from the bad decisions of others. Pennsylvania law is designed to protect everyone using the road from the dangers of cell phone use. Hands-free phone calls are allowed, but you are otherwise not legally allowed to interact with your cellphone while behind the wheel.
Snapchatting and Driving: The Dangers are Real
Snapchatting while driving is deadly. It’s easy to tell yourself that it won’t happen to you–until it does. And some are blaming the app for one of its features that makes it especially enticing for young drivers to use it while driving. A speedometer that allows users to capture and display the speed their vehicle is moving at, which critics say makes driving and snapchatting more attractive for teenage drivers.
A lawsuit concerning an incident in Georgia in 2015 involving the use of the Snapchat speed filter alleges partial responsibility on behalf of Snapchat. The plaintiff sustained a traumatic brain injury due to the 18-year-old defendant’s driving at excessively high speeds. One of her snapchats recorded a speed of 107 miles per hour, and one of her passengers recalls seeing the speedometer reach 113. The driver, with a shocking lack of understanding of the seriousness of her actions, then posted a picture of her bruised face from the ambulance that took her to the hospital after the crash. The lawsuit names both the driver and Snapchat.
Snapchat has also been implicated in another accident, this one closer to home. A 2015 crash in Philadelphia killed three women in their twenties when they slammed into a tractor trailer full of combustible chemicals which subsequently exploded. Rescuers were unable to save the women, who burned in the fire. Several of the driver’s friends reported that she had sent several Snapchats in the moments preceding the accident, one of which showed a speed of 73 miles per hour.
While investigators were unable to prove this conclusively since the Snapchats disappeared from the phones of anyone they were sent to and the victims’ phones were destroyed in the crash, the families of the women feel that the app’s speed filter encourages drivers to drive faster. In Snapchat’s defense, the app does direct users not to use the app while driving, and a pop-up that warns against using the speedometer in the car appears when it is first accessed.
Take the Pledge and Drive Safely
Sometimes all it takes is a little extra awareness to remember to put down the phone and focus only on the road while driving. The National Safety Council’s “Just Drive” pledge is a voluntary agreement to refrain from using your phone to check or update social media, take photos, use Snapchat, check or send email, or even to have a conversation while you’re driving. This pledge can be dedicated to family members or friends and shared so that others are aware of your decision to just drive. Another incentive to drive responsibly can be provided by apps that are designed to get you and others safely to your destination.
- AT&T’s DriveMode: This app senses when a car is in motion and blocks calls and texts for the duration of the ride. If a teenage driver disables the app, parents can set it to notify them.
- Drive Beehive: This rewards-based app tracks mileage and allows friends and family members to provide a reward to drivers who travel a certain distance without engaging with their cell phone. Wonder: This app notifies your contacts when you are driving and discourages them from trying to contact you until you arrive.
Donaghue & Labrum–Car Accident Lawyers
Another driver’s momentary negligence can have severe consequences for other drivers on the road, and the threat is never more serious than when a driver is using their cell phone. If you or your family have been victims of a car accident, it’s imperative to seek legal council immediately. Donaghue & Labrum have been fighting on behalf of car accident victims for more than 3 decades, and we know how to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. When distracted driving plays a role in your injuries, you need an attorney who knows the territory and fights to win. Don’t suffer needlessly–call Donaghue & Labrum at 610-565-9120 for a free consultation.