Snapchat and Pokemon Go: Taking Distracted Driving to a New Level

Everyone remembers their driving lesson checklist: “Fasten your seatbelt” and “Adjust your mirrors”.  But how about “Snap me when you get there” or “Watch for Pikachu”?

The introduction of smart phones brought distracted driving to an unprecedented level with texting, emails, tweeting, posting, and booking dinner reservations with the tap of a screen. Now, with the soar in popularity of apps like Snapchat and Pokemon Go, it’s arguable that driving just got a lot more dangerous.

Snapchat is an app that allows users to send and receive photo messages for a short period of time (usually up to 10 seconds) before the picture disappears. The app also allows the user to alter a picture with “filters”, add location-specific captions, and play with various additional functions like sharing how slow or fast they are traveling at the time the picture is taken.  In a recent example, a teenager in Georgia driving at a high-speed snapped a photo using this Snapchat function to post her speed of 107 MPH.  As a direct result, the teenager rear-ended another vehicle which led to severe traumatic brain injuries and chronic pain to the driver of that car.

Pokemon Go is a newer phenomenon - an augmented-reality game in which players search for Pokemon characters in real-life locations through the screens of their smartphones.  A positive outcome of Pokemon Go is that it encourages users to go outside, walk around, and get some exercise. However, Pokemon Go can be a distraction to users by forcing them to constantly interact with the game and their phones. This results in players ignoring their real-world surroundings, including the road.  There have already been numerous headlines blaming distracted Pokemon driving as the cause of motor vehicle accidents and injuries.

While common sense would prohibit using Snapchat or Pokemon Go while driving, some would argue that no specific law in New Jersey explicitly prohibits drivers from using the apps while operating a vehicle. However, the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Code places very strict restrictions on using any “electronic communication device” while driving - i.e. your smartphone and any app on it. Instead of racking up Pokemon or Snapchat views, you’ll rack up fines (and points for repeat offenders). 

We are faced with enough distractions as it is on our every day drives, so it is important to be diligent and reduce additional distractions to ensure the safety of all while on our way to our destinations. Hold off on the snaps while driving and ditch the “Gotta catch ‘em all!” mantra once you get behind the wheel.  The one thing you surely do not want to catch is the hefty fine. 

If you have legal issues arising out of a motor vehicle violation or accident, our firm has extensive experience regarding those claims.  Feel free to contact us at (742) 545-4717.