The result of this has been people letting us into their lives more and more on a daily basis. And while that can often be a rewarding and interesting thing, it can also occasionally lead to accidents. Especially when using such devices while driving.
In fact, studies, and even informal demonstrations on popular shows such as Mythbusters have shown that the use of devices like phones while driving can impair driving skills to similar levels as driving while under the influence of alcohol. That’s shocking enough, but this problem is compounded even more by the fact that because the use of smartphones while driving doesn’t have the same social stigma attached to it as decades of public education against the dangers of drunk driving, “distracted driving” as it is called, is not only far more widespread, the number of traffic related accidents and deaths related to distracted driving has actually surpassed that of drunk driving.
Vanity Becomes Dangerous
One of the most recent phenomenon in social media usage is known as “the selfie,” which is simply a slang term for photographic self-portraiture, when people use the cameras built into their phones to take their own photographs. That in itself is a harmless activity. However, as unbelievable as it may seem to the average, common sense American, some social media users are so addicted to making sure they send selfies of themselves to their social media accounts they actually take pictures or shoot videos of themselves while driving. Not only is it possible to go on the Internet and see photos and videos of people doing this as evidence of their negligent driving activities, you can even find videos and photos of accidents occurring while these users are so distracted by their camera activity, they ignore their responsibilities as drivers. There are even cases of Florida residents, such as Dr. Alex Lopatnyuk, a resident of Oakland, who have voluntarily submitted videos of their blunders to the public as a warning to others.
In the video Dr. Lopatnyuk put on popular video site YouTube, he is shown filming himself using his phone, which he has attached to a “selfie-stick.” This stick is an accessory that more devoted selfie fans attach their phones to, in order to extend their reach and get better framing and composition of themselves in their photographs. Dr. Lopatnyuk was so distracted by shooting himself on video he completely failed to realize that the vehicle in front of him, which was carrying a canoe, had stopped. His own video shows him colliding with the vehicle in front, and the canoe penetrating his windshield. Fortunately for him, he was not injured, but this video dramatically makes the point that when you become more concerned with getting the perfect shot than paying attention to the road, the results can be severe.
This idea that more and more people are becoming distracted drivers is both a frightening prospect and, at the same time, a real chance for victims to get concrete evidence of negligence in a personal injury case, and that is because of one thing. The use of a smartphone while driving provides critical evidence of wrong doing.
Whether it is through text messaging, or the actual taking of photos and videos, the one thing that distracted drivers fail to realize is that the device that is enabling them to cause accidents is also making an account of the event. If someone like Dr. Lopatnyuk has a video of themselves getting into an accident that is already incriminating proof that any personal injury lawyer can easily use in a court of law. But even if it’s not video that is being shot, a photograph or even text message will contain what is called a “time stamp.” This is simply a built in function of devices like smartphones, to affix a date and a time to the activities it is used for. If someone was taking a selfie of themselves when the accident occurred, there will be a timestamp of that activity in the photo. It’s the same with text messages.
This means that in the event of an accident, if is very, VERY important that you ensure the other party does not use their phone for anything other than placing a phone call. There may be critical evidence on that device which will make a personal injury case much easier to resolve.