Young woman driving while using Snapchat to take photo while driving

Snapchat, the popular social media app, has received several lawsuits in the past due to one controversial photo filter. It’s called the Speed Filter. It shows a speedometer, just like the one in every motor vehicle on the road today. The issue? Many believe it leads to problems involving young people, speeding, and fatal car crashes. A very recent court case was filed on May 4th, 2021, about this exact Snapchat filter. But is Snapchat at fault for distracted driving? Let’s take a closer look.

Snapchat’s History of Legal Issues

Surprisingly, this isn’t the first time Snapchat has found itself in hot water over the Speed Filter. In 2015, a family filed a lawsuit against Snapchat and the driver, Christal McGee, who hit them while using it. Shortly after the 100-mph crash, McGee posted a photo captioned, “Lucky to be alive,” from the back of an ambulance.

In 2016, a 22-year-old and his 19-year-old passenger caused a fatal accident while using the Snapchat Speed filter. Both died, and they also killed a mother and her two children.

In the past, courts have sided with Snapchat in these feuds, citing the 1996 Communications Decency Act. This act says, “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”

Essentially, SNAP Inc. doesn’t produce the filters (users create, publish, and distribute them across the platform). So they can’t be held responsible for the consequences of the filters. Additionally, Snapchat can’t be held liable for users’ actions while using the platform, like distracted driving leading to a car crash.

Distracted Driving Laws in Florida

In Florida, distracted driving laws are pretty comparable to the rest of the US. Recently, however, Governor De Santis signed into law more aggressive legislation to combat distracted driving. We likely don’t have to remind you of how much of a problem this is in our state.

Despite the strict rules laid out in the law, enforcement is typically low, and the results have been disappointingly ineffective. Still, drivers distracted by their phones is a long-running issue in need of solving.

You may be wondering what exactly counts as distracted driving. According to the NHTSA, distracted driving is “any activity that diverts your attention from driving.” This includes eating, drinking, changing temperature controls or music selections, doing your makeup, and of course using your phone. It’s no surprise that sending photos on Snapchat behind the wheel is distracted driving.

There’s an interesting development that we’re seeing with these Snapchat cases. The responsibility is on the distracted driver, not the manufacturer of the distraction. Time and time again, the onus of responsibility for distracted driving accidents falls on the driver.

How to Avoid Distracted Driving Accidents

In this age of technology, it can be hard to set aside distractions for the duration of a drive. There are a number of simple habits that can help to keep the roads safer:

  • Keep two hands on the wheel. Don’t try to multi-task. Use handsfree communication if you must and try to use controls on your steering wheel. Keeping both hands on the wheel can deter you from distracting yourself.
  • Handle distractions when stopped. Distracted driving is a moving violation, meaning it’s illegal to do while the car is moving. You can answer texts at red lights (while staying alert), but it’s safest to wait until you reach your destination. There’s no shame in pulling over to a safe location to handle distractions as well!
  • Allow passengers to help you. If you’re driving with others, allow them to help you handle your distractions, like selecting music or responding to texts. Letting someone else be the DJ or navigator can also make it a more enjoyable drive for everyone.
  • Pay close attention to other drivers. A distracted driver poses a threat not only to themselves, but to others as well. Be aware of the surrounding drivers and take extra care around drivers who aren’t focused. We’ve got more on how to spot a distracted driver here.

We can prevent distracted driving with a small dose of care and attention. The next time you’re on the road, be proactive in avoiding distractions to keep everyone just a bit safer. And definitely don’t try to hit 100 mph speeds for a social media post.

Contact the Distracted Driving Attorneys at Brooks Law Group

If you’re injured in an accident by a distracted driver, call the distracted driving lawyers of Brooks Law Group. We’ll fight for the compensation you deserve after the negligence of another. You don’t have to go it alone. Contact us for a free case review today.

Steve was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. As was the practice for new doctors his father worked day and night during his medical residency at Charity Hospital there. Steve comes from a long line of doctors. His father, his grandfather, his great grandfather, even two uncles were all specialists and/or surgeons in their chosen medical specialties, including internal medicine specialist, obstetrics / gynecology, neurosurgery and general practice / surgery. His great-great grandfather was the Surgeon General of Ohio during the Civil War.