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Reckless driving accidents blamed on Snapchat speed filter

The proliferation of cellphones and the popularity of social media are sources of great concern for road safety advocates in Texas and across the country. The number of distracted driving accidents has soared in recent years, and surveys indicate that a worrying number of motorists view making phone calls, sending text messages or even watching videos while behind the wheel as acceptable behavior.

While some social media platforms have been criticized for not doing more to discourage this kind of behavior, the popular messaging application Snapchat has been accused of actively promoting it. In 2013, Snapchat released its speed filter. The update allows Snapchat users to add a mile per hour figure to their photographs and videos, and several fatal accidents have been blamed on drivers deliberately reaching dangerous speeds in order to impress their friends.

In November 2016, a Florida mother was killed along with two of her children when her minivan was struck by a speeding vehicle. Police later discovered that the 22-year-old man behind the wheel had uploaded a video to Snapchat just moments before the crash. The application's controversial filter showed the man's speed to be 115.6 mph. In September 2015, an Uber driver suffered a traumatic brain injury when his vehicle was struck by a Mercedes traveling in excess of 100 mph. Accident investigators discovered that the 18-year-old woman behind the wheel of the Mercedes had also been using the Snapchat speed filter.

Personal injury attorneys generally file auto accident lawsuits against reckless motorists or their insurance companies, but manufacturers or officials may also face litigation when they fail to take reasonable steps to protect road users from foreseeable risks. Companies could be sued for not doing enough to prevent harm being caused by their products or services, and in other cases remedies might be pursued in civil court when accidents are caused by poorly designed or inadequately maintained roads.

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