A shocking number of young Queensland drivers have confessed to using popular social media app snapchat while behind the wheel.
A study from the Queensland University of Technology found 15 per cent of 17 to 25 year olds use the app to take a picture or video while driving.
PhD researcher Verity Truelove, from QUT’s Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety Queensland, conducted the study to find out which social media platform was most commonly used by young people driving.
Snapchat is considered to be the most popular form of social media for those aged under 25, according to the QUT research. Of the six million regular Snapchat users in Australia, two million of them are aged 18 to 24.
Ms Truelove explained of the 15 per cent who used Snapchat to capture something while driving, 58 per cent said their motivation was to “immediately share a video or photo of something they had seen while they were driving”.
“The vast majority of these app users (71 per cent) said they most commonly used it while stopped at a red light, but three per cent said they most commonly used Snapchat while driving at any speed,” she explained.
While 84 per cent of drivers said they had not used Snapchat while driving 12 per cent believed doing so was “acceptable behaviour”.
Through the focus groups, some startling confessions came out among the drivers who used Snapchat.
“I Snapchat and drive!” someone admitted.
“I had a friend who was Snapchatting on like [X] road which is one of those country roads that are just like dead quiet and she crashed and she still Snapchats,” one participant said.
“Like how do you not learn your lesson from that?”
Another participant believed people used Snapchat while driving to “be cool” and explained a girl they knew Snapchatted while driving 65km/h through a 40km/h school zone.
“I think people do it for the Snapchat, like look at me speeding and using my phone,” the participant said.
Through her research, Ms Truelove found the people using Snapchat while driving used the app at times they considered to be “low risk”, like when they were stopped at traffic lights.
“This is an encouraging result in some ways – and consistent with other QUT studies that have looked at wider phone use – as it indicates young drivers are trying to self-regulate their behaviour and only use their phone in low-risk situations,” Ms Truelove says.
“Another common theme was that most young drivers did not think there was much chance of them being caught by police using their phones, which meant fines weren’t much of a deterrent. They believed the restriction on hand-held phone use was difficult to enforce.
“Obviously if you know there’s going to be cops there then you’re not going to be on your phone,” one person said in the focus group.
In Queensland, drivers can be fined $400 and have three demerit points against their name if they are caught with a mobile phone in their hand, for whatever reason while driving, even when sitting in traffic.
For second or subsequent offences within one year of the first offence, double demerits apply.
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