Snapchat has emerged as one of the surprise threats to drivers, with a new study showing one in six young drivers surveyed had used Snapchat while behind the wheel. 15% said they had used their phone to send a video or photo at the same time as controlling their vehicle.
Snapchat and driving in particular are to be subject to random identification checks by the Office of Traffic Safety (OTA), according to research conducted by Volvo.
Among the study participants the fastest-growing, largest and most closely followed most frequently used app at a driving start was Snap, which is the most used by 18-24 year olds.
Around 15% of those surveyed said they had used their phone while in a car, with around 15% of those between the ages of 18-24 having used Snapchat at least once while driving. This figure is significantly higher than the 3% of mobile phone owners aged between 18-24 that use Snapchat ‘monthly’, with 61% of drivers aged between 18-24 reporting using the app at least once since the beginning of the month. The vast majority (81%) of Snap users then say they will use it at least more frequently, however, with nearly one in three (31%) saying they will use Snapchat at least once more between now and April, with 33% of owners not sure.
In the same survey, 18-24 year olds (six respondents) most commonly used the time-waster feature when their car was on the open road, saying their habits usually peaked around 4pm and 6pm. Among Snap users that day at least once, 15% described themselves as ‘highly mobile’, 8% described themselves as ‘technologically disabled’ and 4% termed themselves ‘disabled’.
In general, users are considered to be hyper (24%), semi-social (23%) and semi-tolerant (19%) in the Snap culture. Users that use Snapchat every day report a greater amount of time streaming videos or pictures, ranging from 30 minutes for some people to two hours for others.
Of all Snap users, 3% reported breaking the law as a result of Snap, while around 4% of users said their phone would cause them to lose control of their vehicle. ‘Not only have most users reported getting into accidents due to the time-wasters on their phones, but most traffic traffic deaths in 2015 were related to distracted driving,’ said Ajay Bhatia, Director General of OTS.
Nick Homer, Volvo’s Head of Safety and Research, added: ‘Traffic safety is an area where Snap has a real opportunity to change things. While Snapchat’s medium impact may be limited, this study will help us better identify issues by uncovering trends in the Snap usage of drivers.’
Deputy Chief Inspector Rob Pringle of OTS, said: ‘This research demonstrates the different styles of use behind the wheel. While the difference between Snapchat users and the general public can be found largely in the age group between 18-24, there has been much reporting of Snap users working in vehicles. This kind of technology gives young drivers the freedom to have lots of fun while driving, but still has the potential to present potential dangers for the public.’
The study included 502 drivers aged 18-34 of a Volvo XC90/XC90X Series car over a five-day period. Taken from the lists of easy-to-use Snap and watch apps, the research showed Snap users in the smallest areas of age group tending to consume the most video.