A popular but controversial social media feature may be to blame for the heartbreaking deaths of five people in Tampa late last month – and it's not the first time that Snapchat's speed filter, which records how fast a phone is traveling and awards users virtual trophies on the app for posting their speeds, has played a role in a devastating car crash.
Florida investigators say Jolie Bartolome, 19, was using the feature while traveling with her boyfriend, 22-year-old Pablo Cortes, III when their Volkswagen Golf jumped a median and crashed into a minivan in Tampa. The couple was killed, along with three innocent people traveling in the minivan – a mother and her 9- and 10-year-old children. Three other people also in the minivan were hospitalized in critical condition.
Just moments before the accident, Bartolome's Snapchat profile showed that the couple's car was barreling down the road at speeds of over 115 miles per hour - more than twice the speed limit on the road where the crash occurred.
This is the second known major accident in which Snapchat's speed filter is alleged to have been a factor. In September 2015, an 18-year-old woman slammed her car into another on an Atlanta highway while traveling 107 miles per hour in a 55-mph zone. The crash left a Georgia man with severe traumatic brain injury, unable to work, and reliant on a walker or wheelchair to get around. Snapchat officials claimed the driver had not been using the app, but this was disputed by passengers in the car with her. They said the woman had been trying to reach 100 mph.
Statistics show that distracted driving is to blame for more than 3,000 deaths and 425,000 injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes in the US each year, and Snapchat, which boasts more than 100 million daily active viewers, is proving particularly worrisome. If you or someone you love is injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, report the incident to the police and get medical treatment, even if the damage or injuries seem minor. Then, call 877-798-7700 to speak with a dedicated auto accident attorney with Gainesville's Schackow & Mercadante.