The Dangers of Snapchat and Driving

We’re all aware of the dangers of texting and driving. No matter where in the country we might live, we’ve likely heard a story about texting behind the wheel leading to disastrous consequences. But parents of teens have a new worry: teenagers using apps while driving, particularly snapchat and driving.

A study conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions found that using apps while driving may actually be a bigger distraction than texting. According to a survey, 27% of teen reported texting and driving. A whopping 68% admitted to using apps while driving, and 80% of those said that they thought using apps wasn’t distracting.

The teens surveyed were also asked to rank distracting behaviors from most to least. Looking at or posting to social media had a lower perceived risk than texting and driving or operating under the influence of alcohol.

Could Snapchat be the most dangerous app on your phone?  The app tops the list of dangerous app use and surging popularity has resulted in reports of deadly crashes.

Snapchat and Driving at 107 Miles Per Hour

A recent story of a car accident caused by Snapchat in Georgia left a man, Wentworth Maynard, with severe injuries, and a teen, Christal McGee, strapped to a gurney. After crashing into Maynard at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour, she snapchatted another photo – one of her bloodied, strapped into a gurney, with a caption: “lucky to be alive.”

Wentworth is pursuing personal injury damages against both McGee and the social media giant, citing negligence. His lawyers say that Snapchat rewards drivers by awarding “trophies, or in-app badges, for completing certain tasks.” Snapchat said in a statement that it never awarded trophies for speeding, and it has a “Do NOT Snap and Drive” warning within the app. And yet, these warnings do not detract teens from doing just that.

Do Teens Know the Dangers?

The Liberty Mutual Study, which the company conducts annually, has a new feature this year. Researchers included “implicit association testing,” which aims to reduce testing bias and get to what subjects think at a gut level – not what they think researchers want to hear.

In the traditional part of the survey, 95% of teens acknowledged that they thought app use while driving was dangerous. Nearly half said that using navigation apps were dangerous, but 58% said they used them on the road. Almost two-thirds of the teens (68%) reported that using music apps were dangerous, yet nearly half used them anyway.

The implicit association part of the survey was more revealing. Researchers showed a picture of a car and navigation and music apps. Teens were instructed to immediately pick an option: “dangerous,” “safe,” or “fun.” Using implicit association, researchers found that 80% of teens didn’t find app use distracting.

What Can Parents Do To Prevent Snapchat and Driving?

While dangerous app use applies to adults as well, it poses an even bigger threat to teens because of their immaturity and lack of driving experience. Parents can help their teens become safer drivers by taking the following actions:

  • Have an open dialogue. Talk to your teen about the dangers of app use and driving. Tell him or her to keep the phone completely out of sight and reach to avoid temptation.
  • Tell teens to research and map out their routes before they leave the home instead of relying on navigation apps that take eyes off the road.
  • Instruct them to have friends or other passengers control the music apps. If driving alone, stick to the radio.
  • Use parental controls as appropriate.

Snapchat and driving is surpassing texting as a dangerous driving behavior, particularly in teens and young adults. With a proactive approach, parents can help minimize their children’s risk of a car accident in Las Vegas.