The Relationship Between Social Media and Car Accidents
No one can deny that the advancements in smartphone technology have led to an increase in distracted driving over the past decade. Now that everyone has a computer in their pocket, it is natural that people are tempted to make calls, text, or look up their destinations while driving.
But social media has added another element to this equation. More and more people can connect across the world, and the constant need for validation through likes, follows, and direct messages has caused some people to develop social media obsessions. In day-to-day life, this may not be a major issue, but when this obsession mixes with poor driving habits, it can cause devastating car crashes.
Understanding Distracted Driving
- Visual: This involves looking away from the road, a.k.a. looking at a cell phone, staring at billboards, reading, checking your makeup in a mirror, or looking in the backseat.
- Manual: This involves taking your hands off the wheel and performing some other tasks, such as texting, adjusting the radio, getting items from a purse or bag, eating, drinking, or grooming.
- Cognitive: “Mental” distracted driving occurs when a driver’s mind is not on the task at hand, whether due to daydreaming, talking on the phone, and arguing with passengers.
Most states in the country have laws against distracted driving, with California outright banning drivers from holding cell phones while driving. Drivers can use Bluetooth devices to manage calls and use voice-activated apps, which reduce accident rates according to research from Virginia Tech. However, they are still a form of cognitive distraction, and drivers under the age of 18 are not allowed to use cellphones while driving in any scenario.
How Dangerous Is Distracted Driving?
The rules are not arbitrary: distracted driving killed over 3,100 drivers in a recent year, making up almost 9% of all fatal car accidents. Simply putting down the phone, paying attention to the road, and focusing on driving can save lives. You have no excuse for causing a fatal car accident through distraction, and drivers who cause collisions because they could not resist checking social media should be held accountable.
All distracted driving is dangerous, and the expansion of social media platforms over the years has not improved the situation. Back in 2005, only 5% of adults in the United States used social media, but by 2019, that number rose to 72%. Given that there is a new platform almost every two years, social media has steadily taken over most people’s lives and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with using social media, the growing popularity of Snapchat and TikTok has only accelerated these collisions. In fact, it is very easy to find videos of users recording themselves while driving – including all forms of distracted driving. There is even a group of truck drivers who record their day-to-day lives, largely out of the boredom that comes with driving for long periods of time. But the harsh reality is that the heavy adoption of social media among commercial drivers increases the likelihood of a serious distracted trucker accident.
Who Is Responsible for Distracted Driving?
If you were injured by a distracted driver, then you may be wondering how to get your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages paid for. According to California’s personal injury laws, you can hold the distracted driver liable in a car accident claim if they caused the collision. Distracted driving is an act of negligence, and the other driver’s insurance company should provide full compensation to you in a claim.
In the recent case of Lemmon v. Snap Inc., however, at least one U.S. court found that a social media platform could be held liable for a collision. In 2019, the parents of three teenagers filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Snapchat after their children died in a car accident where one of the passengers was using Snapchat. The app allowed users to add a speed filter to their videos that calculated how fast they were going. While the driver did not use the app, he did accelerate over 100 miles an hour while his friend recorded a video with the filter in order to see how high it would go. While most lawsuits of this nature are dismissed, an appeals court did find Snapchat liable for the teenagers’ deaths, a rare occurrence that could impact how these cases are handled.
In any case, it is important to discuss your accident with a skilled California personal injury attorney. At The Law Firm of Joseph H. Low IV, our founding attorney can sit down with you in a free consultation, determine who is responsible for your injuries, and fight to get you full compensation. If distracted driving contributed to your accident, then Mr. Low can use all of his knowledge and experience as a trial lawyer to demand the maximum amount from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. To discuss your case today, call us at (562) 901-0840 or toll-free (888) 454-5569.