A social media messaging application used by thousands of Oklahoma residents has been connected with high-speed traffic accidents by police in at least two states. Snapchat has become wildly popular especially among young people largely because it allows its users to enhance the photographs and videos they upload with unique filters, but a feature that overlays a miles per hour reading on uploaded content has been slammed by both law enforcement agencies and road safety advocates. Critics of the feature say that drivers are disregarding speed limits and placing other road users in danger to impress their friends and increase their online followings.
Calls for the company to withdraw its speed filter grew louder when reports emerged linking the controversial feature with an Oct. 26 car accident that claimed the life of five people in Florida. Video footage uploaded just minutes before the crash clearly shows the 22-year-old man responsible reaching speeds of up to 115.6 mph. The man lost his life along with his 19-year-old passenger when his car struck a minivan head-on. A 38-year-old mother in the second vehicle was also killed in the crash along with her two young children.
The Florida accident came about a year after a Georgia man was left with serious injuries after his car was struck by a speeding Mercedes as it merged into traffic. The 19-year-old woman behind the wheel was also discovered to have been using the Snapchat speed filter just before the accident. She was later charged with a felony when police learned that her two passengers had been begging her to slow down and stop using the controversial application.
Personal injury attorneys pursuing civil remedies on behalf of car accident victims may scrutinize cellphone records when distracted driving is suspected, and they could also check video footage and photographs uploaded to platforms like Snapchat or Instagram to get a better understanding of what transpired in the moments before a collision. This material could be used to establish negligent behavior on the part of the at-fault motorist.
Source: Fox 13, Tampa, "Video shows car speeding 115 mph before deadly crash", Lloyd Sowers, Oct. 28, 2016
Source: The N.Y. Daily News, "Georgia teen sued over Snapchat use in high-speed car crash now facing criminal charges", Tobias Salinger, June 1, 2016