It is hard to believe that people could be so foolish to take photo’s or videos of themselves driving, but when the likes of Snapchat have features that seem to encourage it we ask whether it’s time app companies took some responsibility.
Chris Benstead, a driving instructor first brought this to our attention a few weeks ago. We already knew about driving selfies but what we were told by Chris Benstead shocked us.
Snapchat, one of the most popular apps of all time has a selfie facility which allows the user to overlay their photo with the speed at which they are going. Whilst drivers in the UK are not permitted to use their mobile phone whilst driving, this selfie app has a MPH (miles per hour) selfie facility which presumably is expected to be used by a driver, especially as the speed of the vehicle is something which the driver naturally controls.
Snapchat may have never intended for this facility to be used by people driving but the fact remains that it is. When youngsters brag about the speed at which they were going are they relaying the story as the passenger or as the driver?
Another issue we have with this MPH selfie speed overlay is its design. The font style is uncomfortably similar to those in video games which require or encourage speeding as you can see from a screenshot of the Need for Speed game:
And here is what it looks like on Snapchat:
If the purpose of Snapchat’s ‘speedometer’ feature was not to encourage speeding we believe that the designers of this overlay should have been briefed specifically to make it uncharacteristic of those seen in video games.
The inconsistency between road safety and app features continues. In May of this year Snapchat was reported to be discouraging distracted driving. Their method of achieving this? Having a pop up warning them if they’re using Snapchat and driving (detected by the speed detecter in the app) that it is dangerous to do so and they should not be doing it. Which in itself, is dangerous. And makes no sense if one of the app features is to overlay how fast you are going when you take a selfie.
The Daily Telegraph reports that one in three drivers admitted to having taken selfies whilst driving, so this isn’t just a niche phenomenon exclusive to young people.
Whilst it is clear that people must take individual responsibility for their actions when driving the point should also be raised that companies which directly or indirectly promote reckless behaviour should be taken to task.
Snapchat may not be the only app people use to take selfies whilst driving, but this is the only app that we are aware of that has features related to taking a selfie and driving simultaneously.
Have you ever spoken to your pupils about the use of mobile phones whilst driving? Do you think that there should be more driver education for young people about the use of technology whilst driving?