News of cell phone abuse behind the wheel keeps getting louder and more tragic, with reports of Snapchat’s speed filter — an app that notates the speed of travel during a selfie photo — causing accidents across the county. Snapchat has over 150 million users each day and is popular with younger users. Its speed filter was in use during a deadly Florida crash last month as a 22-year-old driver surpassed 100 mph minutes before his death.
Reckless driving isn’t just a traffic ticket, it’s a misdemeanor criminal act. Defined as exceeding the speed limit by 30 mph, the law is less rigid. It takes location and conditions into account. A speeding violation or questionable driving behavior in a school zone or in inclement winter weather can be written up as reckless driving regardless of your actual speed. It’s a “know it when I see it” ticket because it’s tied to your surroundings and road conditions in addition to the verbiage of the law.
With mobile devices continually gaining popularity, car accidents have been on the rise. From a legal standpoint, using a device while driving is almost always an indication of fault: a driver simply should not be using electronics while behind the wheel; his eyes should be on the road. It’s reckless and it’s negligent.
The accidents connected to Snapchat’s speed filter suggest that drivers are using their phones and vehicles as toys: part of a game instead of a mode of transportation, and there are serious consequences for those actions. In Florida, five lives were lost and lawsuits are in motion. Another alleged speed filter accident, this one in Georgia at 107 mph, caused a merging driver severe brain injuries when his car was struck by an 18 year-old driver.
Even after the collision, the young driver couldn’t resist the urge to pick up her phone and update her status. From the back of the ambulance she posted another selfie with a concise caption: “Lucky to be alive.”