Snapchat is an app for your smartphone that lets you take pictures and videos and send them to your friends. The app, which launched in 2011, has been updated over the years. One of the most recent additions is a filter called the Speed Tracker.
There are a couple of differences between Snapchat and other sharing apps like Facebook or Instagram. You can add filters, captions, or even doodles over the top of the photos before sending them. Once the recipient views the video or image, it’s deleted. These snaps are gone after being viewed for 10 seconds and cannot be replayed or saved.
The recent speed tracker addition tracks your speed while you’re taking a photo or video. While that may sound interesting, it’s also dangerous. Snapchat is primarily aimed at teenagers and young adults, and the recent addition has led to a rash of young drivers taking selfies and sending them to friends while they’re driving.
Use of Snapchat was cited as a cause for a recent accident in Georgia.
The issue of drivers using Speed Tracker while behind the wheel came to a head on September 10, 2015, in Georgia. That’s when a young driver was using the app with Speed Tracker when she hit another car. She was attempting to take a Snapchat while traveling over 100 miles per hour. Doing so would have unlocked a special reward within the app.
While traveling at 107 mph, the driver hit another car, slamming it into the embankment. Tragically, the other driver was hospitalized in intensive care for five weeks and was diagnosed with a severe traumatic brain injury. Today, he is unable to work or do many daily activities without assistance.
A lawsuit was later filed against both the driver and against Snapchat itself. The suit states that the social media app itself was the cause of the car crash. Because it offers a reward for reaching higher speeds, the lawsuit contends, the app encourages drivers to drive quickly and recklessly. In addition to the lawsuit, which is still ongoing as of this month, several petitions have been created on the website Change.org asking Snapchat to remove the Speed Tracker from their app.
Snapchat executives have stated that the app does inform drivers that they should not use Speed Tracker while driving, but many are quick to point out that teens and young adults are likely to text while driving despite laws preventing such actions. They point out that a warning on the app is not much of a deterrent.
The crash in Georgia was not the first accident connected to Snapchat and its Speed Tracker filter. The app has not yet removed the tracker. The outcome of the lawsuit may do more than remove that part of the app — the company could end up paying a significant amount of money in legal fees.
Remember, distracted driving, whether due to texting or the use of social media, is dangerous. If you have been injured in a car accident, and you suspect the other driver was distracted, contact the attorneys at Wood, Craig & Avery in Atlanta at (404) 888-9962 for a free consultation.