For many, the concept of texting and driving is passé—instead of sending a text or WhatsApp message, young drivers are sending pictures or short videos to friends using Snapchat. In many cases, using Snapchat while driving can be even more dangerous than texting or talking while driving. Learn more about the unique dangers associated with the use of this app while behind the wheel.
The dangers of using Snapchat while driving
While reading or composing a text tends to take your eyes off the road for an average of five seconds, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), using Snapchat to take a photo or video, apply filters, and choose an audience can divert a driver’s eyes from the road for an even longer period. This, combined with the fact that Snapchat users tend to be younger and less experienced drivers can be a recipe for disaster.
And with more than 1,000 distracted-driving-related crashes—and nine fatalities—each day in the U.S., the use of any app that takes a driver’s eyes off the road can pose incredible risks. It takes only a few seconds for a pedestrian to enter the roadway, another vehicle to cut you off, or a piece of lumber to fall off the vehicle in front of you—and if you’re looking at Snapchat instead of driving, you’re far less likely to be able to take evasive action to avoid these hazards, especially without much experience behind the wheel.
Is it illegal to use Snapchat while driving?
Many states have enacted laws that classify “distracted driving” as a moving offense. If you’re caught using your phone while driving, you could be issued a citation; and if your distracted driving leads to an accident, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or be sued for civil damages.
In addition to these laws, vehicle manufacturers and app developers have designed safety measures that can do things like prevent the cell phone’s non-emergency functions from working while the car is in gear (or in motion) and auto-forward calls, texts, and app notifications to “silent” mode so that they aren’t a distraction. These safety measures are especially targeted at teenagers, whose parents can gain great peace of mind (and lower auto insurance premiums) by taking concrete steps to protect their teens from using apps like Snapchat while driving.
What to do after an accident
If you’ve been involved in an auto accident in which Snapchat use was a contributing factor, it can be a good idea to seek out legal advice as soon as possible. For the at-fault driver, mounting a credible defense can be the key to shielding oneself from civil liability. For the injured driver, settling with the insurance company without evaluating your financial damages could mean leaving money on the table. Reach out to Harrell & Harrell today for an experienced personal injury attorney to explain your options and help you make an informed choice.