According to WSPA news, a recent deadly traffic crash occurred mere moments after a Snapchat video was allegedly recorded—a video showing the driver was traveling at speeds in excess of 115 mph. Five people, including two children, died in the October 26 crash. It is reported that the video was discovered on a Snapchat page of the 19-year-old passenger involved in the accident.
Tragically, three of the victims, a mother and her two children, were traveling in a minivan when the speeding car collided with them. The at-fault driver was 22 years old. He and his passenger died.
This Tampa, Florida, crash has reached headlines nationally, because of the suspected use of Snapchat’s popular speed filter in the moments leading up to the crash. Snapchat is a social media app that allows users to send multimedia messages, such as pictures or videos, to a selected audience. The app allows certain filters and affects, such as adding text captions or drawings. If you are unfamiliar with the app and wish to know more, simply ask any teenager—he or she should be able to tell you.
One Snapchat filter is drawing strong criticism because of its relationship to these accidents. The speed filters allow users to video themselves in motion, and display a real time speedometer—showing how fast the person filming the video—or “snap” as they are called—is going. The Tampa crash last week showed a high speed of 115.6 mph.
This Isn’t the First Time
This filter first grabbed our attention earlier this year when CBS reported about an 18-year-old driver who reportedly used the Snapchat speed filter to boast about driving in excess of 100 mph at the time of a crash, which resulted in a victim suffering severe traumatic brain injury. The driver, now 19, was arrested in the state of Georgia for causing serious injury by vehicle, according to CNN.
Snapchat says it discourages use of the app while driving. But it raises the question: why would a social media company allow an app extension if one of its more obvious uses—maybe the most obvious use—is to track speed in an automobile?
What Can Be Done?
First, Snapchat should seriously consider discontinuing this filter. We are all for free markets and freedom of choice, but we already know about distracted driving and the dangers caused by the use of phones while driving. A speed filter seems to encourage young people to drive more dangerously, whether intended or unintended by Snapchat. Such a filter seems socially irresponsible.
We can’t expect companies to necessarily regulate themselves on these types of matters. We also don’t necessarily want government interfering with private business unless necessary. To ban or prohibit such a filter may not be the answer. At the end of the day, it was not the app that caused these crashes. It was the people driving the cars.
Perhaps the best solution is to talk to our children about the dangers of distracted driving. We must constantly remind them (and others, for that matter) that cars are not toys, and if cars are used irresponsibly they can result in serious injury or death. We also must lead by example, which means we must remember to put the phone down while we are driving. There is nothing so important that it can’t wait until you get to the office, the house, school, or wherever your destination may be. Additionally, don’t be shy: if you are riding with a friend who is focusing on his phone and not driving, remind him that it can wait.
We have handled enough car crash cases at Holland & Usry to know that the impact of a crash can be devastating. We all should do what we can to limit the likelihood of crashes occurring.
If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of distracted driving and would like to talk to the lawyers at Holland & Usry, please do not hesitate to contact us at 864-582-0416 or toll-free at 888-230-1841 for your free, confidential consultation.