Remember “Pokemon Go?” A few months ago, it was the hottest app around. Millions of Pokemon fans around the world could live out their dreams of being a Pokemon master around their town or city. However, just as quickly as it caught on, it started causing controversy – the app was distracting drivers and pedestrians alike, causing countless accidents and even deaths on the road.
Pokemon Go shed a fresh light on the fact that phones can cause distracted driving due to more than just texting – you can put yourself in big danger from opening up any app on your phone. In fact, though texting and driving has become the poster child for dangerous behavior while behind the wheel, some sources say that it takes a backseat to the dangers of using phone apps while driving.
No, you’re not writing or reading a text. You may just be pressing a button or two. It seems harmless. Anything that takes your eyes off of the road, however, is considered distracted driving, and can increase your risk for getting into an auto accident. Apps like Snapchat and Waze may seem harmless, but have caused big problems for people who use them while driving.
Snapchat Video Says Car Is going 115 MPH before Getting into Deadly Accident
Nineteen-year-old Tampa resident Jolie Bartolome was in the car with 22-year-old Pablo Cortes III when she recorded a Snapchat. The social media app has a “filter” option that shows you and video viewers how fast you are going in your car.
The filter warns that drivers should not be using the app while behind the wheel – and Barolome wasn’t, she was just a passenger. However, she recorded the car going 115 miles per hour. Shortly after, Cortes lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a Toyota minivan, killing himself, Barolome, a mother, and her two children.
While it is true that Cortes was not recording the video when he crashed, the speed filter and the Snapchat app itself have been involved in numerous car crashes everywhere from Washington to Philadelphia to Georgia to Brazil.
Why? Because drivers and passengers seem to have become enamored with the prospect of using the speed filter as a way to show off to friends while they’re driving.
Other social media and video apps aren’t much better. Periscope, Instagram, Facebook Live, and others may not have a Speed Filter, but they can lead to behavior that is just as dangerous as the SnapChat app.
Even apps designed to help drivers avoid accidents can bring about disaster when using them on the road.
Waze: Reporting Car Accidents Can Cause a Car Accident
You may have heard of Waze, a navigational app that aims to give commuters the option of warning other commuters of accidents, police checkpoints, heavy traffic, and so on. The app even rewards drivers who send reports to the app.
Many drivers like the real-time, commuter-driven convenience of Waze… but others warn that it can be dangerous to send reports and use the app while you’re on the road. Wanting to send reports to Waze about traffic jams or auto accidents as soon as possible is understandable, but be sure to do it after you have finished your commute and parked.
Not only could using Waze behind the wheel lead to a crash, spending any time on navigation apps could also easily be mistaken as texting and driving. Currently, texting while driving is only a secondary offense in Florida, but if you are pulled over for a separate traffic violation, it may net you an additional ticket. You can read more about the rules against distracted driving in Florida here.
Put Your Phone Away While Driving
Whether you are sending a quick text, posting on Instagram, or checking Facebook, save it for when you get to your destination. Any time you spend looking away from the road or engaged in another activity while behind the wheel is considered distracted driving.
Consider these tips if you (or your teenage children) are tempted to use your phone while driving:
- Memorize your route ahead of time – Before you start your car, check your navigational apps and look at traffic updates and alternate routes. If you have a passenger, let them be your navigator.
- Put your phone on airplane mode – Every notification or little “ding” on your phone could take your focus away from the road in an instant. Put your plane on airplane mode while you are driving (or just turn it off) to cut down on receiving any texts or messages that could distract you.
- Read more stories about app-related accidents – Not convinced? Keep your eyes peeled for more stories like the ones above. They come out every day. Know the realities of distracted driving, and how it can severely injure you, other drivers, and cost you thousands in medical bills or insurance premiums.
Also remember that while you can stop yourself from driving while distracted, you can’t control everyone else on the road. If you are hit or injured by a distracted driver, you deserve to receive fair and just compensation due to their negligence and poor driving behavior. Reach out to an experienced Florida auto accident lawyer to see if they think you have a case.
About the Author:
John K. Lawlor, a South Florida personal injury attorney who focuses his practice on complex personal injury, wrongful death, and professional malpractice, founded the law firm of Lawlor, White & Murphey in 1996. Since 1995, Mr. Lawlor’s trial advocacy and litigation skills, as well as his wide-ranging legal expertise, have provided plaintiffs and their families with a distinct advantage when seeking financial compensation and justice for injuries caused by the negligence of others. Mr. Lawlor is an EAGLE member of the Florida Bar Association and an active member of the American Association for Justice, the Broward County Justice Association, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and several professional associations.