As my readers know, I often write about the dangers of distracted driving. I thought I had discussed almost every conceivable distraction while behind the wheel – talking, texting, emailing, eating, drinking, putting on make-up, shaving, looking in the backseat, and fiddling with the radio or GPS. Now, I’ve read multiple articles about a new trend, especially among teen drivers. Live-streaming!
Streaming – broadcasting a live video of yourself online typically via smartphone – is becoming increasingly popular nationwide. Using apps such as Periscope, Snapchat, and Facebook Live (which launched in 2015) people stream live video to their Facebook page, where others can watch in real time, or after the fact. Live-streaming and driving is increasing every day.
A Rhode Island man was live-streaming video of himself traveling more than 100 miles per hour through traffic before he slammed into a median and hit a garbage truck. The video cuts out, just before he hits the garbage truck and loses control. The vehicle was beyond recognition; the driver had to be extricated. He was transported to the hospital in critical condition, but is now recovering in good condition. The truck driver was not injured.
The negligent driver was charged with reckless driving and driving on a suspended license. Court documents revealed that the negligent driver had at least three traffic violations in the last year.
An 18-year-old was driving slowly and live-streaming on Facebook while driving along a Pennsylvania highway moments before a crash that killed her and a passenger. In the video, the 19-year-old passenger can be heard asking “Are you going live?” Before the driver could answer, lights are seen flashing in the vehicle followed by the sound of screeching tires, then a dismal seven minutes of blackness and silence, according to reports. A tractor-trailer was unable to stop and plowed into the back of their vehicle, killing both teens instantly. The fiery crash made it difficult for investigators to properly identify the teens. The truck driver was not injured.
State police say they will use the video footage, which has since been taken off the Facebook page, in their investigation. It is too early to know if the truck driver will be charged. It is also unclear why the teen was driving so slowly. Was it because she was driving on a donut spare tire? Did she slow to live-stream?
Smartphones have become an essential part of day-to-day life; the use of them by drivers has increased. Stand at any busy stoplight and count how many drivers you see with a phone in hand. As technology grows, I am certain there will be even more potential distractions for drivers. When will it stop?
No matter the outcome of any lawsuits from these recent crashes, we all need to do our part to stop distracted driving of any kind. It is time to bridge the gap between the mindset and the behavior. It is time drivers stop prioritizing cell phones and social media over the task at hand – driving. Save the call, text, email, selfie, even your live-stream until you reach your destination.
Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series. Mark Bello 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.