Snapchat is a social media application that users can download on their smartphones or tablets to take temporary pictures and share them with friends. Users can set time limits (up to ten seconds) on an image and send to certain friends, and those friends will be able to view the image for that period of time. Users can also send short videos which disappear after the video has ended. Snapchat has added new filters to the app, one of which displays the speed at which the user taking the picture or video is traveling.
Where most filters alter the image by changing its color or adding a location to the picture, the speed filter displays the user’s current speed onto the image. For example, a person sitting still will have “0 mph” appear on an image and a user in a moving vehicle will have a reading that matches their speedometer. While this could be a fun feature for users in buses, trains, and the passenger seat of a car, it has raised some concerns and safety questions among those familiar with the app.
Snapchat “Speed Filter” Crash
The chief concern is that the filter may attract more people to use the app while driving, which distracts them from the road and endangers their passengers, other drivers and pedestrians. In April, a teen user of the app collided with another vehicle while driving her car at speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour. Allegedly, the driver had been trying to get over the 100 mph mark so she could post the speed on her Snapchat using the speed filter. As a result of the crash, the driver and her passengers were taken to the hospital, and the other driver suffered a permanent brain injury. The driver is now facing multiple charges, including one felony.
Snapchat “Speed Filter” Lawsuit
Wentworth Maynard, the second driver, has sued both the girl and Snapchat over the crash. His lawyers argue that the app incentivized the driver to speed and drive while distracted in order to use the filter. Snapchat insists that they do not value their app more than safety, nor do they encourage snapping while driving. The company notes that the app includes a warning when operating the filter that states, “Do NOT snap and drive.” In addition to defending the filter, Snapchat has also claimed that it played no part in the crash. According to the company, the girl’s activity logs on the app show she was not using Snapchat at the time of or just prior to the crash. Due to the claims, the case has been put on hold for thirty days while both sides are investigating.
Snapchat and Distracted Driving
Regardless of whether Snapchat and its speed filter are at fault for this particular crash, drivers need to be aware of this potential threat to safety. Though texting and driving is often associated with distracted driving, distracted driving has never been limited to texting alone. It takes many forms, all of which can be deadly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, eight people are killed and 1,161 are injured as the result of distracted driving every day in the United States. Apps like Snapchat provide one more distraction that can take a driver’s focus off of the road.
Drivers should not use their cell phones while on the road. Snap chatting, texting, and any other form of phone use can take attention away from the road and jeopardize the safety of everyone within the user’s vicinity. In order to preserve safety, a passenger in a vehicle, never the driver, should be the only person to use features like Snapchat’s speed filter. To learn more about distracted driving, visit AllenandAllen.com.
About The Author: Jason Konvicka is a partner and trial attorney with Allen & Allen in Richmond, Virginia. During his 20+ year career, he has achieved numerous record-setting jury verdicts and substantial settlements on behalf of his clients. His practice focuses on medical malpractice, bus accidents and product liability personal injury cases. Outside of the courtroom, Jason is involved with the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association and currently serves on its Board of Governors as Vice President.