Earlier this month, we brought you the heartrending story of a fatal crash that took the lives of five people, including a young mother and her two small children in Tampa. Now, behind-the-wheel use of a second popular social media feature – Facebook Live - apparently is to blame for a deadly accident.
In the first case, Florida investigators say a 19-year-old driver was using Snapchat's speed filter feature while barreling down the road at speeds of over 115 miles per hour when her Volkswagen Golf jumped a median and crashed into a minivan. The collision killed the driver, her passenger, and three people in the minivan, leaving three others hospitalized in critical condition.
In the most recent case, Pennsylvania state police say 18-year-old Brooke Miranda Hughes was live streaming via Facebook Live while driving slowly in the right lane of Interstate 380 when her vehicle was struck from behind by a tractor-trailer just after midnight on December 6th. In the resulting video, which since has been removed from Hughes' Facebook profile and will be used as evidence in the investigation, Morrison-Toomey is heard asking Hughes, "Are you going live?"
Before Hughes can answer, lights flash inside the car and the sound of screeching tires is heard before a deafening crash. The video continues for another seven minutes but eerily shows only blackness until the end, when a man is heard speaking and a blurry, bearded face is seen.
The crash killed Hughes and her passenger, 19-year-old Chaniya Morrison-Toomey, making them part of a heartbreaking and avoidable trend. Statistics show that in 2014 alone, 3,179 people were killed in distracted driving crashes on America's roadways. Safety experts believe that figure will continue to rise as social media offers more interactive features that prove tempting to people on the go.
Per a statement by Facebook spokeswoman Andrea Saul, company officials "encourage people to contact law enforcement if they see a Live stream in which someone is in danger."
It's clear that the use of social media while driving has become an increasingly pervasive danger. If you or someone you love suffer an injury or loss due to someone else's distracted driving, you may be entitled to significant compensation. Call 877-798-7700 to speak with a distracted driving attorney with Gainesville's Schackow & Mercadante.