What we can learn from Obdulia Sanchez

I choose not to link any videos or share any photos in this post for a reason and that reason is this: Jacqueline Sanchez’s final moments have already been disgraced enough without me adding to it.

Eighteen-year-old Obdulia Sanchez, while allegedly under the influence, livestreamed herself driving recklessly on Instagram. The video shows her dancing and singing and the moment she loses control of the vehicle before ending. But that’s not the end of the story: After losing control of the video, the resulting crash throws her fourteen-year-old sister, Jacqueline, and her sister’s friend from the vehicle. Obdulia collects her cell phone from the wreckage and then continues to livestream, turning the camera multiple times to her sister, who dies on camera from a horrific head wound as Obdulia rolls her around and repeatedly tells her to rest in peace.

Obdulia, a recent high school graduate, was arrested after the crash and is facing charges including vehicular manslaughter and DUI. Her sister, who was set to celebrate her Quinceanera this week, was declared dead at the scene. Her friend was hospitalized with non-fatal injuries.

A Facebook group demanding justice for Obdulia and blaming social media and technology for the crash has already garnered over 5,000 members.

While this story is horrific and utterly heartbreaking, it is sadly not the first of its kind. Poke’mon Go, Snapchat, and LiveStreams on other social media sites have also resulted in deaths and have also caused massive criticism of cell phone apps and their influences on young people.

But is that fair?

Is Instagram to blame for this accident? Was Snapchat to blame for an accident that claimed the lives of three girls  who were using its speedometer feature before crashing into a semi and reportedly burning to death? Should Poke’mon Go pay for the medical treatment of a girl who was hit by a car while crossing a busy highway while playing the game?

According to some, the answer is yes.

Including the surviving passenger from Obdulia’s vehicle, who said during an interview, “Honestly, I’m not mad at anybody and I don’t blame anybody. It’s all affected by social media. That’s what life is now. And it’s going to advance more and more. That what it’s going to be about.”

But not everyone agrees. Even as far back as 2012, major news outlets and statistics proved that social media and driving don’t mix. According to Dr, Nick Reed, the average driver without a cell phone spends approximately 10% of their driving time looking away from the road – adjusting their A/C, changing the radio, checking their speed, etc. – while someone using their cell phone will be looking at it instead of the road approximately 60% of the time.

That’s not to say that social media and cell phone use is the number one contributor to distracted driving and vehicular accidents. In footage recently captured on camera, a woman wrecked her vehicle while allegedly https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fdashcamclips%2Fposts%2F1864843543767379&width=500“>changing her shirt while driving.

So what can we learn from this case as well as the hundreds, if not thousands, of other social media and distracted driving-related accidents and deaths every year? It’s actually very simple:

Pay attention to the road.

Driving a vehicle has become so commonplace and mundane compared to the instant gratification provided by social media likes and comments that people forget that they are in control of a very dangerous object. A vehicular accident doesn’t just bend metal and raise your insurance premiums. It can kill someone: A stranger, a mother, a friend, you, your sister.

So let’s impose a few simple rules for ourselves to help save lives:

  • Let’s agree to stay off social media while driving.
  • Let’s avoid sending text messages if our vehicle is moving and we’re in the driver’s seat.
  • Let’s take a moment to remember that, no matter how late you are, you’re going to be even later if you wreck while trying to change your clothes or do your makeup on your way.
  • Let’s keep in mind that your Facebook notifications will still be there when you get home. That your SnapChat will be waiting when you get to where you’re going. That no one actually cares about your mouthing lyrics while driving down the road anyway.

Sorry doesn’t undo something that’s already been done. Remorse doesn’t bring back the dead. Obdulia can never take back what she’s done and everyone who knew and loved Jacqueline will have to live with the fact that she’s gone and millions of people watched her go. So let her death be a reminder to us all of the sanctity of life and how easily it can be lost over something so meaningless.

No one will die if you don’t instantly respond to that comment on your selfie, but someone could die if you do.

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