It wasn’t that long ago that to make a call in your car, you had to have a big boxy Bimmer or Benz with a built in handset phone.
Car phones – what a boss throwback. I would rock one of these in my car now if I could.
Of course, now that everyone has a cellphone, the potential for mayhem and distracted driving has gone through the roof.
Enter a candidate for the Darwin award -- teenager Christal McGee. Christal discovered a Snapchat feature called a filter that overlays an MPH reading on your selfie.
160 MPH while using Snapchat. Not recommended!
She then decided to push the limits of sanity and safe driving in her Mercedes Benz, activating the filter and driving as fast as she could to show off to her social media followers.
You can see where this is going. McGee promptly lost control of her car and smashed into a Mitsubishi Outlander, whose driver sustained permanent and severe brain injuries. A later accident reconstruction indicated that she was driving at 107 MPH at the time of the crash. She even posted a Snapchat selfie right after the incident.
The injured driver’s lawyers are now suing Snapchat and McGee for negligence. Snapchat is named because the attorneys will argue that including the speed filter in their app encourages reckless stunts like this one. Of course, Snapchat is also an attractive “deep pocket” from a legal strategy standpoint. In the end, all civil cases are about money, and this one is no different.
As society confronts more instances like this one, the authorities are adapting. That brings us to the Textalyzer. Similar to the way that the police test for DUI with a breathalyzer, New York legislators have proposed a device that would tap into the phones of drivers involved in a car accident and check for recent activity. Much like a breath test during a DUI stop, refusing to produce your cellphone could lead to a license suspension.
Given that even heavy hitters like the FBI have trouble breaking the encryption of modern phones, and given the fact that such a test might not even be accurate, it remains to be seen whether this idea will gain traction. For now, the safest bet is to remember that you are probably too old for Snapchat (I am 30 and I’m embarrassed at how hard it is to figure it out!) just set your phone aside and enjoy the road the old fashioned way, with some nice music on the good old FM radio.