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'TWIT Spotting' Shames Texting Drivers on Billboards, but Is It Legal?

By Jenny Tsay, Esq. | Last updated on

Public shaming rises to a new level as a project called TWIT Spotting aims to post pictures of texting drivers on billboards throughout San Francisco.

Launched by Brian Singer, a graphic artist, TWIT Spotting's goal is to "freak some people out" and make them think twice before texting while driving, according to The Huffington Post.

It's obvious that texting while driving is a traffic no-no, but is it legal to publicly shame drivers by photographing them without their permission?

What is "TWIT" Spotting?

The TWIT Spotting project is a way to get people to recognize their distracted driving behavior. It works by having just about anyone snap photos of drivers' faces and their distracted behavior. These photo are then submitted to the project and Singer will post those photos online and on 11 billboards around San Francisco, which he currently funds himself, reports Gizmodo.

Basically, distracted driving behavior is anything that takes the driver's attention away from the road. This could include:

  • Texting or surfing the web,
  • Applying makeup,
  • Personal grooming,
  • Reading the newspaper, and/or
  • Interacting with pets.

Although making the public aware of bad driving habits could be beneficial, it may also trigger invasion of privacy of laws.

Invasion of Privacy

Invasion of privacy can take on several forms, including intrusion of solitude and false light. Intrusion of solitude involves peeking in (physically or otherwise) into another person's private affairs. This usually means "peeping Toms" or illegally listening in on another person's phone calls. While drivers who get posted on the TWIT Spotting page may object to the use of their images without permission, taking photos of people on a public road or highway probably won't be considered an intrusion of solitude.

On the other hand, publicly shamed individuals may have a legal case against TWIT Spotting for false light. False light claims occur when a true, but misleading fact is publicly disclosed that injures a person's reputation. For example, if one of the drivers featured on the TWIT Spotting website was shown making a phone call while driving, but was only doing so because of an emergency rather than just to chat, then there could be a false light claim.

Singer was inspired to create the TWIT Spotting project after the behavior he observed during his commute on U.S. Highway 101, The Huffington Post says. However, this begs the question: Shouldn't Singer have been focusing on the road ahead of him rather than what other drivers were doing? Just saying.

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