In 2013, 2,163 teens in the United States ages 16-19 were killed and 243,243 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes according to the CDC. That means that six teens ages 16-19 died every day from motor vehicle injuries.
Snapchat, one of the fastest growing social media applications on the market today has many entertaining filters, one of which is the speed filter. This filter, which displays the MPH the user is currently moving, potentially encourages and motivates teens to push the limits when driving to obtain social status. Teens have a responsibility to make smart choices and Snapchat has the opportunity to lead the current generation as a role-model developer of our cyber future.
Christal McGee, 18 years old, was driving 107 miles per hour in a 55 mph zone. She was using the speed filter trying to gain social status and failed to notice Wentworth Maynard's car pull out onto the highway on which she was speeding. Mr. Maynard will never work again. The speed filter did not cause the accident. However, it motivated Christal to drive recklessly.
A teen's cyber world is complex and full of pressures. With Snapchat being a leader in the application market, it has the ability to lay the groundwork that gives users a positive and safe experience. Their terms and services state, "Do not use our Services in a way that could distract you from obeying traffic or safety laws. And never put yourself or others in harm's way just to capture a Snap." This is a great and extremely necessary addition to this document. However, my concern is that very few users, particularly teens, will actually take the time to read the fine print. A recent survey published by Skandia shows just 7% of people read the full terms when using a product or service online. As the amount of teenagers who claim to enjoy reading continues to decrease, one can only assume the percentage of users reading Snapchat's Terms and Services are slim to none. Honestly ask yourself... When was the last time you read the entire terms and services of a product you were using?
We as people are quick to blame others when tragedy strikes, as it has in the case of McGee's traffic accident and subsequent lawsuit. So, this is the million dollar (literally) question: Who do we blame here? A) The parents for potentially not educating their child on safe driving practices, B) the teenager who made the choice to use Snapchat while driving, or C) Snapchat for containing a feature that encourages reckless behavior. If you ask me, the answer is D) All of the Above. When an accident as devastating as this occurs, everyone at fault needs to step up and take some responsibility. Sure, Snapchat didn't MAKE that young girl drive at dangerous speeds, but perhaps she wouldn't have done so if the speed filter didn't exist. Perhaps setting a limit to the speed, or having an in-app safety reminder pop-up when it detects you are moving at high speeds, is the answer.
The National Safety Council reports that cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year. 1 out of every 4 car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving. Millennials and Generation Z have an opportunity to use their voices and promote safe driving habits that will revolutionize our views on distracted driving. AT&T DriveMode® is a free app that silences incoming text message alerts so you can keep your eyes on the road and stay focused while driving. It's incredible that AT&T is taking a stand and reminding us that nothing on your phone is worth risking a life... and that includes Snapchat! It's simple...put your phone down...#ItCanWait
Regardless of who's "side" you're on, I think we can all agree that this situation is devastating for everyone involved. I can only hope that teenagers will soon recognize that they are not, in fact, invincible. And besides...no one actually cares how fast you are going in your Snapchat Story.