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Snapchat Related Collisions are on the Rise

The selfie of a teenager strapped into a gurney, with blood running down her forehead with the caption “Lucky to be alive,” quickly went viral after a teenager was involved in a collision in September, 2015. However, the selfie was not the most troublesome thing the Georgia teen used her cellphone for that night. The other driver involved in the collision has filed a lawsuit against the teenager and the photo messaging app, Snapchat, alleging the teenager was using a Snapchat “lens” that clocks the speed of vehicles, attempting to push her car to higher and higher speeds. An accident reconstructionist determined that at the time of the collision the teen was driving 107 m.p.h. The driver suing the teen and Snapchat alleges that he has sustained a severe, traumatic brain injury.

The lawsuit against Snapchat further alleges that the app motivates drivers to use the speed filter to receive a “trophy,” one of the app’s badges given to users after they complete a task. According to Snapchat, the app has never offered trophies for high-speed driving. The crash has become a high-profile case in the debate over distracted driving, a growing problem we have blogged about in recent months. It seems that many drivers just can’t put down their electronic devices while they’re behind the wheel.

Unfortunately, our Tampa Bay community has had its own Snapchat tragedy last month. The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating a Snapchat video that allegedly recorded the driver going 115 miles per hour just before the deadly crash that claimed the lives of five people, including two children. The driver was speeding westbound on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard when he lost control of his Volkswagen Golf, and crossed over the median of the road, colliding head-on with a minivan, which caught fire. The VW Golf then rotated and collided with two other vehicles. A mother and her two children in the minivan were killed in the collision. The driver of the VW Golf and his passenger also died in the crash. The Snapchat video allegedly surfaced on the Snapchat page of the passenger in the VW Golf the same night as the deadly collision. FHP investigators say the video supports the belief that speed played a role in the events leading to the crash.

This collision serves as a tragic reminder that with the popularity of phone apps and interactive gaming, more distracted drivers are on the road than ever before. To help prevent a needless tragedy, here are steps every driver should take to ensure that they are safe and not contributing to the distracted driving problem:

1. Silence the phone. It is very tempting to respond to the text alerts, calls, and other notifications that sound off while you’re driving. Reduce the urge by putting the phone on silent.

2. Map it out. Make sure you program the GPS before heading to your destination. Use the voice function so you do not need to look at the portable device or smart phone in order to know which direction to go.

3. Groom at home. Give yourself plenty of time in the morning to get ready, so you don’t have to apply makeup or shave in the driver’s seat. Your eyes should be looking in the rearview mirror at the other cars, not at yourself.

4. Familiarize yourself with the car’s controls. New cars often have sophisticated or overly clever controls that require some getting used to while driving.

5. Skip the drive thru. Resist the temptation to eat or drink in the car. Not only could you spill something or burn yourself, but you won’t save much time if you are working to hold a burger, drink a soda, and trying to steer the car – all at the same time. Pull over, eat at home before, or tell your stomach to wait until you get to your destination.

Although practicing safe driving habits can greatly reduce driving dangers, accidents still happen. If you or a loved one have been injured in a collision, call Beltz & Beltz today at 727-201-9944 or 813-559-9090, and speak with one of our lawyers to discuss your case. The call is free.

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