New App Periscope Increases Distracted Driving Accident Possibilities

Every vehicle owner should be aware of technology’s impact on the driving experience. Although you might not own a smartphone or other mobile devices, plenty of others are distracted by the temptation to use these devices while behind the wheel. While GPS and hands free technologies have improved the driving experience in terms of safety and efficiency, other mobile technologies are making the roads much more dangerous than ever before. If you were to stand on the side of a busy road and observe drivers as they pass by, you would notice that a good number of them are distracted. Far too many are reaching for their smartphones and checking their email or actually texting messages to acquaintances.

Periscope App Distracting Drivers

periscope app distracted drivingOne popular mobile app that is quickly gaining popularity with drivers is Periscope. This free app from Twitter lets users broadcast live video streams from anywhere where an Internet connection is available. Our initial research reveals that too many people are using this app while driving. Just a simple search on twitter for “driving periscope” demonstrates the huge number of users who are using this new app while behind the wheel. Their likely motivation for using Periscope while driving is to build a social media following or to simply provide their friends, family members, and strangers a look at their commute. Additionally, many users who use the app while driving are without any passengers and often respond to written comments, indicating that the driver may just be looking for company or someone to talk to while driving. While this might seem like a cool idea at first, it is actually a very unsafe practice.

The truth is that drivers who use the Periscope app are constantly distracted. They fiddle with their cell phone to initiate the live stream, adjust the stream, chat with viewers and pinpoint the perfect filming position. Then, when the phone is displaced due to bumpy terrain or a quick stop, the entire process begins again, all while negotiating stop signs, traffic lights and turns. The app is not designed as a simplistic video feed without interaction. It has a number of features that encourage the videographer to interact with his audience. Those who provide the most intriguing video content will be awarded “hearts” from members of the global viewing audience. Streamers who receive the most hearts make it onto Periscope’s highly coveted “Most Loved List”.

While Periscope has the potential to revolutionize the manner in which people communicate through social media and video journalism, it should never be used by someone who is behind the wheel. The app should only be engaged by people who are in completely safe situations, such as someone observing a sunset from a hotel balcony or an individual watching a baseball game. Some even plan on using the app for virtual field trips.

Periscope Use in Lawsuits

It won’t be long before a Periscope live feed will provide us with live footage of an automobile accident as it occurs in real time. It remains to be seen whether the video captured from these accidents could be used in personal injury lawsuit against a careless driver. Would the Periscope users who viewed the driver’s Periscope feed serve as witnesses in the trial? Would this type of behavior call for punitive damages in a California lawsuit? How can Periscope engineers and designers discourage this type of behavior? While many of these questions are still hypothetical, the dangers of distracted driving are real. There needs to be a greater public awareness how this app is being abused while driving and further education against the use of Periscope while driving a motor vehicle. Although drivers currently get away with stationing their smartphones in the vehicle for live streaming via Periscope and other apps, there may soon be additional cell phone/distracted driving laws passed to empower police officers to ticket drivers for this unsafe activity.


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