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Dangerous drivers using SnapChat on the road


Distracted driver accidents accounted for ¼ of all motor vehicle accidents in 2015. The increased use of social media on the roads appears to be one of the reasons for this.

An app that is growing in popularity to use while driving is SnapChat. SnapChat is an image and video messaging mobile app that includes selfie filters and chat features.

The key attraction to teens and young adult users is the disappearing factor of the content they are sending to their followers. The photo or video is only viewable for a brief amount of time.

A recent survey from Distracted Driver Accidents found that SnapChat was the most popular app used by teen drivers when behind the wheel. This overseas survey highlights an alarming trend of young drivers using mobile apps when they need to be paying attention to the road.

It has been suggested that the popularity of using SnapChat while driving comes from users copying celebrities. Reality TV stars, Kendall and Kylie Jenner have been called out in the media for using SnapChat and driving at the same time. Another example is rap producer DJ Khaled, who was in a motor vehicle accident while sending a SnapChat in 2015.

There are several features on the mobile platform that results in it being more dangerous than other apps.

Reasons why SnapChat is dangerous

  1. Disposable content. Once a SnapChat user opens a snap it will only be viewable briefly, so users are more likely to give the app their full attention while the snap is still available.
  2. Selfie camera and filters. It is common for users to send and receive videos of themselves applying the SnapChat filters or singing while driving. There is also a filter to track the speed you're travelling at, which has caused issues in the US.
  3. Geotag. SnapChat users enjoy sharing what they are up to and where they are going to their followers. Constantly updating their whereabouts has become common for users that drive.
  4. Fear of missing out. SnapChat can be used as a private video conversation between groups of friends. Some users don’t want to miss out on contributing to a conversation even if they are driving.
According to a QUT survey, 77% of people between the ages of 18 - 24 use their mobile phones while driving. Using a phone while behind the wheel is very dangerous and it is effectively driving ‘blind’. Your attention is divided and your reactions are slower. There are some methods drivers can put in place to avoid distraction and phone use while on the road.

Methods to avoid using mobile apps while driving

  • Phone calls – install hands-free technology in your car and only speak briefly to incoming callers.
  • Text Messeges – turn your phone on silent and place it out of view.
  • Maps – use a GPS instead and enter your destination before starting your journey.
  • Mobile phone apps – turn off on screen notifications.
If you would like more information or support on how to break the habit, visit www.qld.gov.au/jointhedrive.

Written by Shine Lawyers on June 9, 2016. Last modified: September 6, 2018.

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