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Snapchat application may encourage reckless driving

As smartphones continue to grow in popularity, more motorists in Pennsylvania and across the country could be tempted to read or send text messages while behind the wheel. While the companies behind popular social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have been criticized for not taking action to curb this type of dangerous behavior, the makers of the popular messaging application Snapchat have been accused by road safety advocates of actually encouraging reckless driving.

The developers of smartphone applications constantly refresh their products with new and attractive features. In 2013, Snapchat introduced a controversial speed filter as part of a major update. This filter adds a miles per hour overlay to uploaded videos, and police in two states say that young drivers were involved in catastrophic accidents after increasing their speeds in order to impress their social media audiences. A 19-year-old Georgia woman is facing a felony charge for using the Snapchat speed filter shortly before striking a vehicle at over 100 mph in September 2015 and leaving its driver severely brain damaged.

An Oct. 26 fatal car accident in Florida has prompted fresh criticisms of the controversial application. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a 22-year-old Tampa-area man was killed along with his 18-year-old passenger when his sedan struck a minivan head-on at a speed in excess of 115 mph. The 38-year-old woman behind the wheel of the minivan and her two children also lost their lives in the crash. Police reached this conclusion after watching video footage the man had uploaded to Snapchat minutes before the collision.

When reckless drivers are killed in the accidents they cause, the personal injury attorneys representing their victims may file lawsuits against their auto insurance companies or estates. Attorneys could also pursue civil sanctions against companies or service providers that do not take reasonable precautions to protect members of the public from foreseeable hazards associated with their products or services.

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