How Apps like Snapchat are Causing Dangerous Distracted Driving

Texas is a big state.  The vast highways throughout the state encourage long road trips to explore the state.  For decades, Texans have taken to the highways on vacation to explore every inch of the state – from Big Bend to Amarillo.  Unfortunately, the increasing use of smartphones has caused a staggering number of distracted driving accidents throughout the state.

Texas has unleashed campaign after campaign to correct this behavior and punish smartphone users who insist on using their phone while driving.  For years, the biggest issue was the impact of drivers “texting while driving.”  This inevitably emerged to drivers who posted Facebook status updates while driving. The newest smartphone app to plague law enforcement officers and innocent drivers on roadways is the Snapchat app.

Snapchat was first released in 2011 and was intended to be a platform for users to post “selfies” which were short-lived and self-deleting.  The temporary nature of the app and the photos were intended to encourage users to think outside the box, thereby leading to a more natural interaction.  As of January 2016, Snapchat had 7 billion video views per day, with approximately 100 million daily active users.

Snapchat has evolved to also incorporate filters that detect the current speed the user is going at, thereby encouraging users to actively Snapchat and drive.  Unfortunately, this has led to dire consequences for all drivers on the roadway who are the victims of “Snapchat while driving.”  The need to want to have a Snapchat photo which detects a speed of greater than 100 MPH has led to extreme accidents throughout the country.

Snapchat largely appeals to a younger generation who are inexperienced drivers and therefore more prone to accidents from the onset.  The impact of further distractions such as Snapchat only add to the potential for accidents.  

Distracted driving has long been found to be nearly as dangerous as drunk driving (particularly due to its pervasive nature), and responsible for serious and tragic accidents throughout the state.  Distracted drivers often do not see a child cross the road, or a car signals a turn into their lane.  The failure to see this type of signal at all could have a devastating impact on the unsuspecting victim.  The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a study in 2006 which noted that taking your eyes off the road for more than 2 seconds doubles your risk for a crash.  Typical posts on Snapchat are 10 seconds long, and taking your eyes off the road to record a Snapchat and post the video or photo could take much longer than 2 seconds, greatly increasing the chance of an accident.

Some cities throughout Texas have gone so far as to ban all cell phone use in vehicles within the city.  Other cities have posted similar bans, although only in school zones.  All Texans should be aware of these laws and the resulting penalties that can occur from the failure to abide by these laws.  After so many driving citations, a driver may be subject to misdemeanor penalties, which could impact their criminal record.  A driver may also face criminal charges if they cause a severe accident due to driver distraction.

There have been devastating reports of teenagers killed by car accidents or severely injured after using Snapchat while driving.  The aftermath of these accidents not only causes grave injuries to everyone involved but could also lead to criminal charges for the driver using Snapchat while driving.