Snapchat is a social media app – much like Instagram or Facebook – that many youths are turning to as a means of self-expression. Every user has the ability to show their story, just like Facebook and Instagram offers. But there’s a fundamental difference with Snapchat, which is what makes it so appealing to youths. Snapchats aren’t permanent – Facebook and Instagram posts are.
In today’s world, many youths feel that their social media presence dictates their social status. Snapchat gives you the ability to show others your life in real time – as if they can see and live through your eyes. Life’s more fun when you’re living in the moment, right? It’s also appealing because you can post embarrassingly funny videos of photos of yourself and they disappear. If you were to post the same videos or photos on Facebook or Instagram, they would be there forever. Eventually they wouldn’t be funny anymore – just embarrassing.
But Snapchat – as innocent as it seems – can be seriously dangerous if you choose to drive while using it. Snapchat has a “Speed Filter”, which actually measures how fast you are moving and shows a speedometer superimposed over your Snapchat video. Granted, this feature of the app may have been targeted at runners, but the speedometer that shows up can measure and show up to well over 100 mph. And some youths try to see how fast they can drive with this filter on. Not only are they distracted, they’re also recklessly speeding. This feature has caused quite a few extremely severe and even fatal accidents. In September of 2015, an 18-year-old driver was showing her two passengers the filter while driving her car in Georgia. She reportedly wanted to hit 100 mph for her Snapchat followers. Unfortunately, as she hit 107 mph, her car rammed into the rear end of an Uber driver, who now has a permanent brain injury. The Uber driver brought a claim against both the 18-year-old as well as Snapchat, but a Georgia Judge dismissed the suit alleging Snapchat as responsible for the crash.
But it’s not only Snapchat’s Speed Filter that has caused accidents. Many youths choose to Snapchat themselves while driving – whether they’re simply self-promoting themselves (adding to their story) or sending someone else a snap (an image or a video). Although studies don’t conclusively show that Snapchatting while driving is more dangerous than texting while driving, an argument can be made that it is. A study performed by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions surveyed a population of teens of which 27% reported texting while driving, 68% admitted that they used apps while driving, and 80% did not view these apps as “distractive”.
When you’re taking a picture of yourself with Snapchat, you likely want to look your best. If you’re using one of their goofy filters, you need to stare at your camera and wait for it to recognize your face to place its filter. If you’re taking a video of either yourself or the scenery, you probably want it to look as picturesque as possible. This is entirely distracting you from the road. Your eyes should never leave the road at all. Smartphones have introduced a Do Not Disturb act that can automatically turn on while you’re driving (whether manually or even when you are connected to your car’s Bluetooth), and has had voice recognition for texting quite a while now. Nationwide campaigns against texting and driving may have reduced that problem, but we haven’t seen many campaigns against “Snapchatting and Driving”. Snapchat itself has created an “I Won’t Snap And Drive” filter, but we think it’s time that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shines some serious light on this serious issue.