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April Is Distracted Driving Awareness Month: Dangerous Apps That Cause Accidents

There are many more distractions that go beyond texting while driving. A recent report from Edmunds.com emphasizes that Snapchat and Instagram are at the top of the list of apps that are known for distracting teen drivers.

Can using apps like Snapchat and Instagram cost you your life or the life of another driver? Is it really worth the risk to look at an electronic image? Given that April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, it is important to think about the implications of smartphone use behind the wheel, and dangerous apps like Snapchat and Instagram in particular.

Distracted driving is a serious problem in New York and throughout the country. Indeed, if we take a brief look at statistics concerning car accidents and distracted driving, the figures are quite sobering. For instance, according to a fact sheet from Distraction.gov, a website provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 3,200 people died in crashes connected to distracted driving in 2014, and around 431,000 suffered serious injuries.

How Many Car Accidents Has Snapchat Caused?

According to the report from Edmunds.com, apps like Snapchat and Instagram may be the reason for teen car accidents caused by distracted driving. The report cites a recent study from Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), which conducted in-person focus groups along with a survey of more than 1,600 high schoolers in 11th and 12th grade to determine the most popular apps for teen drivers.

The teenagers involved in the study reported using the following apps with the most frequency while driving:

reason for teen car accidents caused by distracted driving

The snapchatting driving statistics should underscore that the use of this app in cars is a serious concern. While a recent article from NPR suggests that texting and sending emails are two of the most dangerous things you can do behind the wheel, it also clarifies that a very large portion of drivers admit to engaging in some form of electronic communication while driving.

In other words, teenagers may be at particularly high risk of an accident connected to the use of Snapchat, Instagram, and other social media platforms, but we should all be aware of the serious risks involved in distracted driving. As the NPR article states, “the desire to stay connected is so great that many of us can’t resist.”

Is Snapchat Causing Car Accident Deaths?

Why is Snapchat particularly problematic? To begin with, the SADD study makes clear that it is the app most commonly used by teenagers when they are driving. As such, it may be contributing to car accident deaths resulting from distracted driving. Why do so many teens use Snapchat when they are behind the wheel? Part of the answer might have to do with the nature of the app itself.

Unlike the other apps listed in the study, Snapchat has a vanishing factor. As soon as a receiver opens a picture or a video sent through Snapchat, it remains visible for only 10 seconds. We have to ask ourselves if teens using Snapchat while driving are spending those 10 seconds focusing solely on the image, concerned that they will miss something important if they look away from their phones to focus on the road.

In practice, what happens when we take our eyes off the road for 10 seconds to look at a Snapchat message? According to the Distraction.gov fact sheet, taking your eyes off the road for five seconds – half the time that a Snapchat image remains available to its receiver – is the typical amount of time required to send a text message. And when you are traveling at 55 miles per hour, just five seconds is “enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded.” In other words, if a teen driver focuses on a Snapchat image for the full amount of time that it remains available, she or he would have driven the length of two football fields without focusing on the road.

Get the Facts: Snapchat by the Numbers

Given that Snapchat is the most commonly used app among teenage drivers, what else do you need to know about it? According to an Omnicore post, the following facts and figures tell us more about Snapchat and its users:

Snapchat by the Numbers

As you can see, the risks of snapchatting while driving are immense given the daily use of this app. It is particularly important to teach your teenage drivers about the risks of using this app while they are behind the wheel.

In short, do not snapchat while driving. According to a fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fatal car accidents caused by distracted driving are most common among drivers under the age of 20. And of those teenage drivers, about 40 percent admit to sending a text or an email while driving in the past 30 days.

How Can a Lawyer Help Me If I Have Been Involved in a Car Accident?

Circumstances on the road can change in an instant. If you take your eyes off the road to look at an image for even a few seconds, a severe car accident can occur. If you or someone you love recently was involved in a serious traffic collision caused by a distracted driver, an experienced Long Island car accident lawyer can help. Contact the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe LLP to learn more about how we can assist with your claim.

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