Social media and driving don’t mix. Unfortunately, many drivers choose to take unnecessary risks, and it is becoming increasingly common for drivers to post videos on social media while driving. Many of these videos appear on TikTok, which has gained in popularity among younger drivers in particular over the past couple of years.
There is no excuse for using social media apps like TikTok behind the wheel. It puts everyone on the road at risk, and it is completely unnecessary. There is no such thing as an “emergency” TikTok; and, if someone feels the need to take a video and post it immediately, they should do so from a safe location in a parking lot or on the side of the road.
Using Social Media is Just as Dangerous as Texting
While distracted driving awareness campaigns have traditionally focused on texting behind the wheel, studies have shown that using social media is just as dangerous as sending or reading a text message. In fact, using social media apps like TikTok can potentially be even more dangerous than texting.
This has to do with a combination of factors. The first is simply the amount of time it takes to create and post (or watch) a TikTok video. While it takes about five seconds to read an average text message, TikTok videos can be up to 15 seconds, and users can string up to four 15-second segments together to create a minute-long video. At Florida highway speeds, it takes less than five seconds to travel the length of a football field. Imagine driving that far without looking at the road. Now, imagine driving three times that far without looking at the road.
You could get into an accident and literally have no idea what happened.
When explaining the risks of distracted driving, many authorities (including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)) break down driving distractions into three distinct types. All three are present with texting, and all three are present when recording or viewing a TikTok video as well:
- Cognitive Driving Distractions – A cognitive distraction is anything that takes a driver’s mind off of the task at hand. This includes thinking about TikTok video ideas and focusing on recording a TikTok video.
- Visual Driving Distractions – A visual distraction is anything that takes a driver’s eyes off of the road. When talking to their camera phones, TikTokers are not looking at the road ahead.
- Manual Driving Distractions – A manual distraction is anything that takes a driver’s hands off of the wheel. This includes holding a phone to record, post and/or watch a TikTok video.
Recognizing that past efforts to target texting behind the wheel may have inadvertently deemphasized the risks of using social media, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) have now adopted a “Put It Down” campaign. This campaign encourages drivers to avoid picking up their phones for any reason, whether to make a call, send a text, or post a video to TikTok. As the FLHSMV explains:
“To successfully avoid a crash, a driver must perceive a hazard, react and give the vehicle time to stop. . . . Even a focused driver going 50 mph will travel nearly the length of a football field before coming to a complete stop. . . . The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and Florida Highway Patrol remind all drivers to keep your eyes on the road and Focus on Driving to ensure everyone can Arrive Alive!”
Ways Drivers Can (and Should) Avoid Using TikTok Behind the Wheel
Individuals who are heavy TikTok users may feel compelled to post a video or check for posts while they are driving. Like all drivers in Florida, these individuals have a responsibility to make sure they do not make poor decisions that put themselves and others in harm’s way. To avoid using TikTok behind the wheel, drivers can:
- Post videos and check for updates before they shift out of park
- Put their phones out of reach while driving
- Install apps like Lifesaver, Canary, and Down for the Count
- Stop somewhere safe if they feel the need to get on TikTok before reaching their destination
Parents can also play a role in preventing TikTok car crashes. By explaining the risks of distracted driving and explaining the consequences not only for teen drivers, but also for others, parents can help their children make smart decisions. Parents can also encourage (or require) their children to download apps like Lifesaver, Canary, and Down for the Count that promote safe driving practices.
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Understanding Your Legal Rights After a TikTok Car Crash
Given the dangers of using social media while driving, it isn’t surprising that TikTok car crashes occur. If you or someone you love gets injured in an accident involving a driver who was using TikTok, it will be important for you to have a clear understanding of your rights under Florida law.
So, what do you need to know after a car accident caused by a driver using TikTok?
First, in cases involving non-fatal injuries, filing a personal injury protection (PIP) claim is generally the first source of financial recovery. This is due to Florida’s “no fault” auto insurance law.
Second, if you suffered serious injuries or a loved one was killed in a TikTok car crash, you can pursue a claim against the driver. Distracted driving is negligent driving, and distracted drivers deserve to be held accountable for the consequences of their mistakes. While Florida does not require drivers to carry bodily injury liability (BIL) insurance, many drivers (and parents) purchase this optional coverage. If BIL insurance is unavailable, filing an uninsured motorist (UM) claim may be another option. Like BIL coverage, UM coverage is not mandatory. But, if you, your loved one, or another member of your household has UM coverage, then filing a claim could be your best option for securing a financial recovery.
Finally, depending on the circumstances involved in the accident, you may have other options available. For example, if the other driver was working at the time of the crash, you could have a claim against the driver’s employer.
Regardless of the circumstances involved, if you are coping with the effects of a TikTok car accident, you should speak with a lawyer promptly. Asserting your legal rights is an important part of the recovery process, and you will need an experienced lawyer to help you assert your legal rights effectively.
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You should not take any information in this blog as legal advice in any situation. If you need expertise for a specific issue of yours, contact a qualified Personal Injury attorney.