In October 2015 23yr old Whitney Beall hit the headlines. She was a social media celebrity…… but for all the wrong reasons.
Whitney had been out and got drunk. Nothing wrong with that but what followed was two stupid decisions that could so easily have taken her life or somebody else’s.
Whitney decided it would be a wise idea to drive home. A bad enough decision in itself and drink drive is one of the key elements of the #Fatal4. However, she also went on to activate the Periscope application and livestream herself as she drove drunk.
The video is pretty scary to watch if you consider you could have been another road user near to her. You can watch it on The Guardian website.
“I’m super drunk right now”
Viewers of the broadcast implored with her to stop but to no avail. In some ways by hoping she would read their comment they actually increased the danger she was placing herself in. Eventually some viewers had identified her rough location and called it into the Lakeland Police Department on 911.
An officer from the Lakeland Police logged into Periscope, identified her exact location and the rest is history.
Beall received a six-month license suspension, 10 days of vehicle impoundment and 12 months’ probation — all common for a first-time DUI (Driving Under the Influence) in Florida.
She also received 150 hours of community service and 10 days of weekend work release because she flaunted the fact she was endangering the community.
A shocking case and fortunately nobody was hurt or killed. That said the reporting of the case focussed mostly on her drink driving. The live video was the amusement factor. It highlighted her extreme stupidity and was the novelty that engendered its popularity. It was without doubt the key element that led to it becoming international news because without it she was just another drink driver.
What should not be underestimated here is the danger of livestreaming and driving. In itself, even without alcohol, it creates a huge safety risk for the driver, their passengers and every other road user around them.
Social media and live video has created an ‘always on’ society, a fear of missing out culture and a desire for some people to share ‘everything’ regardless of or ignorant to the dangers.
Whitney was lucky. She has a conviction and a name that many will remember. However, at the time of writing there are countless other stories of people who have livestreamed whilst driving and died as a result.
She blazed a trail that nobody else should be walking upon.