Smart Phones & Social Media Apps (like Snapchat) Can Be Deadly for Drivers
Today we live in a society where electronic technology has become a major part of our everyday lives; this is both in the home and our motor vehicles. And while smartphones can be a very useful tool in managing tasks in our busy schedules, providing useful information and entertainment at your fingertips, this same electronic technology can have deadly consequences, especially for teens.
According to most professionals in the field, drivers who are distracted by smartphone use (from safely concentrating on their driving) is a much more common occurrence than is being reported by government statistics. It is not that the government agencies want to give out false statistics; it is simply a matter of underreporting because there is no consistent method of reporting being used by all law enforcement across the United States. Experts also agree that self reporting is unreliable and opens the door wide open for underreporting, hence skewing statistics.
As of 2015, a study conducted by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the University of Iowa estimates that as many as ten people a day are killed and in excess of one thousand people injured daily, may in fact be just the tip of the iceberg.
Of the 50 percent of teen distracted driving crashes in 2015, smartphone use and interacting with other occupants were the most common distractions. But one poll taken at the request of Erie Insurance indicated that some drivers will engage in just about any activity, regardless of how dangerous it is to the driver and others they are sharing the road with; this included smartphone use and apps such as Snapchat.
Snapchat Under Fire Legally & Morally
The Snapchat app has been met with harsh criticism among motor vehicle safety advocates, organizations, and family members and victims of (confirmed) reported Snapchat distracted drivers due to the Snapchat “speed filter” app. The Snapchat app measures and records the user’s speed while driving at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour, which advocates say encourages users to drive faster and faster to record higher speeds. The app records the dangerous behavior and sends it out to the user’s friends.
Safety advocates and victims want Snapchat to be held legally liable for the death and destruction the app has been deemed/reportedly the cause of, namely distracted driving accidents resulting in death or injury. The principal of holding a third party legally liable is not new, it is much the same as lawsuits filed against bars for over serving patrons who are later involved in a motor vehicle crash.
Safety advocates and victims also want warnings placed on apps such as Snapchat that will appear when the app is engaged which will warn users not to use the app(s) if/when they are driving. One such victim whose daughter was killed by a driver who was using the Snapchat “speed filter” app when the fatal accident occurred believes not only should Snapchat be held legally liable for the death of his daughter, but holds the app manufacturer morally responsible as well.
Joel Feldman, the father of one of the victims of a distracted driver and who is suing Snapchat is quoted as saying, “Sometimes it takes tragedy to initiate positive change. I know that as do the thousands who have lost loved ones to distracted driving. Let’s use this tragic case as an opportunity to save lives by doing the right thing. Snapchat can be a leader in this cause.”