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Need for Speed: Snapchat Speed Filter and Reckless Drivers

Distracted drivers account for an alarming number of car crashes each year. The National Safety Council estimates that one particular distraction, cell phone usage, causes more than 1.6 million automobile accidents each year alone. In fact, one out of every four auto accidents in the United States is caused by texting while driving. New drivers, such as teenagers, are even more likely to text and drive, and 11 teens die each day as a result of texting while driving. It is well known that distracted driving accidents can be fatal.

With smartphone usage on the rise, many teens not only text and drive but also browse the internet, sign into their social media accounts like Facebook, and take photos while driving. Snapchat is one such social media application in which users create snaps, which are videos or photos (usually selfies), which can be edited with filters, captions, and the like. One such filter, the speed filter, has been under fire recently due to allegations that it encourages distracted drivers to not only use their phones to take photos or videos while driving, but to do so at dangerously high speeds. This speed filter basically allows users to share how fast they are traveling while they drive and take selfies to send to their friends.

While the Snapchat filter contains a general warning to not snap and drive, many drivers, particularly teens and young adults, disregard the warning. One such teen struck another vehicle while traveling at 113 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour zone because she was “just trying to get the car to 100 miles per hour to post it on Snapchat.” Her negligence caused the driver of the other vehicle to suffer a traumatic brain injury which will require extensive treatment and high medical bills.

In this particular case, the injured party filed suit in a Georgia court and named Snapchat as one of the defendants in the complaint, alleging that Snapchat and the speed filter encourage users to drive recklessly and to take photos and videos at high rates of speed. The lawsuit seeks damages from the defendant driver and Snapchat, stating that the filter encouraged “excessive speeding” and “distracted” the teen driver prior to the crash.

Another more recent example is even more tragic. A young adult in Florida posted a video to Snapchat showing her vehicle accelerating to 115 miles per hour. Minutes later, he lost control of his vehicle and struck a minivan, killing himself, his passenger, and three occupants of the minivan.

At this time, it is unknown whether there is any pending litigation as a result of the Florida accident. It is also unknown whether the Plaintiffs in the Georgia case will prevail on their claims against Snapchat and to what extent, if any, Snapchat can be held liable for the actions and conduct of its users. If you have been injured in a collision with a reckless or distracted driver, it is important that you consult with a car accident attorney immediately to discuss your legal rights and to ensure that you receive adequate compensation for your bodily injuries.