POPULAR photo messaging app, Snapchat, is dangerously being used by drivers whilst behind the wheel.
Celebrities and other social media users are posting filtered images and videos to friends and family while on the road and it is becoming a danger.
The risk is that drivers using smartphone apps such as Snapchat when driving is reported to be three times more dangerous than drink driving.
This is according to the Transport Research Laboratory and the Institute of Advanced Motorist, who concluded that the reaction time of a driver is slowed by 38% while using a smartphone, compared to the 12% of someone who has been drinking.
Snapchat allows people to record short ‘snaps’ with various filters and effects using the front facing or back camera on their smartphones.
Celebrities often use the app to take videos and pictures throughout their day, to add to their public story for the world to see.
Ex Coronation Street actor, Ryan Thomas, from Manchester, has recently been criticized for filming several Snapchat videos of himself and his eight-year-old daughter singing, whilst he was driving.
“It is estimated that one in five crashes are caused by drivers being distracted. Ryan should be setting a better example to his daughter, and his fans.” – Zari’aat Masood, spokesperson for Brake, road safety charity.
A poll conducted via Twitter showed that 62% of people who voted have previously made a Snapchat whilst driving.
It is becoming a trend for drivers to use Snapchat’s speed filter which captures how fast you are driving.
The Snapchat app includes a warning message when people first access the speed filter to discourage using the filter whilst driving. However, this poses the question as to why this certain filter is even available to measure speed if it is urged to not be used whilst driving.
In November 2014, Addil Haroon, 19, killed another driver whilst speeding 80mph over a junction in Rochdale and as a result, he was jailed for six years.
This was after he had bragged to his friends the previous night, by sending a Snapchat showing the 142mph he was racing at down the M62, in a hired Audi A6.
Since December 2003, it has been against the law to use a mobile phone or similar device whilst driving in the UK.
The current penalty is a £100 fine and three points on your license but depending on the nature of the crime, the case could go to court and you could be disqualified from driving or face a maximum fine of £1,000.
However with no specific wording in the law referring to the app, it is becoming too often that people aren’t realizing that they are breaking the law when ‘Snapchatting’ behind the wheel.
Gov.uk states: “the rules are the same if you’re stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic”.
This also applies whenever the car is stationary with the engine still running and also when supervising a learner driver.
Pokemon hunting, tweeting and creating live videos on Facebook are just some of the other distractions that people have been caught using their mobile phones for when driving.
From a recent survey, the bar chart below shows the amount of people who have admitted to using or have seen someone else use a mobile phone whilst on the road.
In 2017, the Government are planning to put in place tougher penalties for people using mobile phones when driving.
Penalty points and fines are set to double and new drivers could be made to retake their test the first time that they are caught using their phones.
Ministers also want to increase the penalty for the offence of ‘death by dangerous driving’, which currently has a maximum sentence of 14 years, to the same sentence as manslaughter – a life in prison.
The following video went viral on Facebook, showing the physical and emotional impact that using a mobile phone whilst driving could cause.
Despite the huge dangers of using mobile phones whilst driving, it is not just these devices which are distracting drivers from keeping their eyes on the road.
In December 2015, Saamir Gehani, a 20-year-old student from the University of Salford, was involved in a collision after he drove under the influence of alcohol.
Mr Gehani said: “Driving under the influence of alcohol is one of the worst decisions i’ve ever made, not only putting my own life at risk but others on the road aswell.
“I regret driving under the state I was and would do anything to change the decision I made.”
Mr Gehani was jailed for two days, faced a £4000 fine and had his driving liscence disqualified for 6 months.
My survey concluded that 30% of people have been in a car where the driver has been under the influence of alcohol, 84% have eaten food or drank a drink whilst driving and 25% have applied makeup whilst driving.
Although the latter two aren’t specifically classed as being illegal, they could still cause careless and dangerous driving. It is clear that any sort of multitasking is a huge danger for drivers as they are not fully concentrating and this could cause a serious risk to not only themselves but to others on the road.
Drivers: keep your eyes on the road and your hands off your phone.
By Phoebe Jobling