Snapchat is one of the most popular mobile apps used by teens and adults today. In fact, DMR’s 88 Amazing Snapchat Statistics reports that there are 150 million active daily Snapchat users, and that 30 percent of U.S. millennial Internet users access Snapchat regularly.
Although Snapchat may be a favorite social media platform for many, the application can be dangerous. Snapchatting while behind the wheel is a form of distracted driving, which can lead to serious car accidents.
The Relationship Between Snapchat and Driving
Snapchatting while driving is extremely dangerous. According to the DMR report, about 11 percent of drivers admit to checking Snapchat while behind the wheel.
The use of Snapchat while driving has been the cause of serious car accidents throughout the United States, some of which have been fatal. In fact, the makers of Snapchat are even facing blame for some of these accidents, based on the allegation that they designed an app that encouraged distracted driving and speeding.
Whether users are taking selfies, snapping pictures of objects or scenery, or viewing other users’ posts, Snapchat – when used while driving – shifts a person’s attention to something other than operating a vehicle safely. And distracted driving can be deadly. Distraction.gov reports that in 2014, more than 3,175 people were killed in car accidents involving distracted drivers, and an additional 431,000 people were injured.
However, Snapchat is not just dangerous because it is distracting. The app may actually encourage people to participate in unsafe and potentially deadly behaviors, such as speeding. Consider the instance of the 107-mph highway accident that left the victim with traumatic brain injuries. According to reports, the driver of the speeding vehicle wanted to post an image of herself traveling fast, potentially encouraged by – and certainly while using – Snapchat’s speed filter. The filter allows users to take a picture and then posts the precise speed that the user was traveling at the time the photo was taken. A passenger in the speeding vehicle at the time of the crash said that at one point, the driver hit 113 miles per hour, according to the Snapchat filter.
Snapchatting While Driving Is Illegal
Using Snapchat while driving is both dangerous and illegal. Although the use of a cellphone in general (i.e. talking on the phone) is not prohibited in Florida, the use of a cellphone for texting is.
Further, the law is not just limited to texting while driving. Florida law specifically states: “A person may not operate a motor vehicle while … sending or reading data on such a device for the purpose of nonvoice interpersonal communication.”
If you use your cellphone while driving to send or receive information, then you are in violation of Florida law and can be penalized as such.
Tips for Parents and Teens for Safe Driving
If you are a parent, you may be worried that your teen will engage in Snapchatting while operating a motor vehicle. Even if you trust your teen to not use a cellphone while driving, you may have less faith in your teen’s friends, some of whom your teen may ride with as a passenger. Although you cannot always be in the car with your teen, you can take action now to protect them by talking to them about the dangers of using a cellphone while driving. For example:
- Share statistics with your teen about accidents and distracted driving.
- Highlight how using Snapchat and other apps behind the wheel can be dangerous.
- Encourage your teen to put the phone away while driving.
- Discuss with your teen how to approach friends about cellphone use while driving.
- Role play interactions where your teen asks you to put away your phone for safety.
There are also some apps that can be used to block texting while driving that you and your teen may consider using. Best Apps to Block Texting While Driving, published by Verizon wireless, is a great resource for choosing and comparing safe driving apps. For parents, Cellcontrol may be a good option. The app blocks teens from sending or receiving text messages while driving and disables other features of the phone, like the camera, so Snapchat isn’t an option.
While you are talking to your teen about safe driving, be sure to hit on other aspects of being responsible when behind the wheel. This includes following traffic laws, never drinking and driving, and being safe about who rides in the car – the more passengers, the higher the risk for distraction.