Florida Highway Patrol have recently learned that a deadly crash in Tampa last Wednesday night was recorded on Snapchat.
According to recent reports, a Snapchat video was posted at 9:38 p.m. allegedly recording the driver of a Volkswagen Golf travelling over going 115 miles per hour. Nine minutes later, the driver of the Volkswagen lost control and crossed over the median colliding head-on with a Toyota minivan, which caught fire upon impact. The Golf then rotated and collided with two other vehicles. The 22-year-old driver of the Volkswagen and his 19-year-old passenger who posted the Snapchat video were killed, as well as the39-year-old driver of the minivan and her two children, ages nine and ten. Two others in the van are in critical condition. While eyewitnesses claim the Golf was street racing, investigators say there’s no evidence to prove it.
This latest crash is renewing questions about Snapchat’s popular speed feature, which clocks vehicle speed at the time a photo is snapped. Reports allege that a Snapchat video was possibly linked to a deadly Kansas City crash in March 2016 and a Philadelphia fatal crash in December. Last year, a Georgia teen driver was accused of causing a high speed car crash because she was allegedly using Snapchat to record her speed. That collision caused the driver of another vehicle to suffer permanent brain injuries. The victim filed a lawsuit claiming that Snapchat has been aware of previous accidents caused by people using the app while driving at high speeds, yet the company chose not to remove the speed filter. Snapchat denies responsibility saying it has always had a warning on its software – “Please” not “Snap and Drive.”
If there is already ongoing concerns about distracted driving especially with cell phones, why would Snapchat create a filter that encourages users to showcase their speed? Isn’t distracted driving bad enough without adding the risk of a distracted driver traveling at excessive speeds? What is even more puzzling is that after numerous reports documenting the devastation of such behavior, Snapchat has shown no concern for public safety, neither admitting responsibility nor taking steps to delete the feature from its app. In fact, Snapchat has embedded numerous incentives into its interface, such as winning trophies for interacting with the app in various ways, such as sending images using filters.
State laws hold that manufacturers are responsible for protecting the public from the risk of harm inherent in a product’s design; the Snapchat miles-per-hour filter has proven risky. How long will Snapchat skirt its responsibility by placing ineffective warnings? How many more lives must be lost?
No matter the outcome of any lawsuits against Snapchat, we all need to do our part to stop distracted driving of any kind. Every time you reach for your phone to take a picture or text someone while driving, you put your life, as well as other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians at risk of serious injury or death. It is time drivers stop prioritizing cell phones and social media over the task at hand – driving.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series—Mark Bello is also the CEO of Lawsuit Financial and the country’s leading expert in providing non-recourse lawsuit funding to plaintiffs involved in pending litigation. He is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.