May 5, 2016
The danger of using your smartphone while driving is a popular topic of discussion lately, and with good reason. Anything that takes your attention away from the road for even a couple of seconds while you drive can cause a terrible injury to yourself or to another person. That is exactly what happened when Georgia driver Christal McGee, an 18-year-old leaving her shift at a restaurant, drove into Uber driver Wentworth Maynard at a speed of 107 miles per hour, destroying the left side of his SUV. McGee and her three passengers were lucky to escape with minor injuries, but Maynard spent five weeks in intensive care with a traumatic brain injury from which he will never fully recover.
Shockingly, what McGee was doing in the moments before she slammed into Maynard was posting an image on Snapchat in which she boasted about speeding. The app has a smart filter that inputs the number of miles per hour your vehicle is going over the image you take, and she allegedly told her passengers that she was going to post her picture minutes before colliding with Maynard.
According to AT&T’s research, it isn’t just texting or taking calls while driving that is putting people at risk these days. People are increasingly using social media while they’re operating their vehicles, and in this case, Maynard and his lawyers are hoping to hold social media partially responsible for his injuries. The Snapchat filter that McGee was using when she crashed has been a part of the app since December 2013, but its use was not addressed in Snapchat’s user agreement until this past March. The fact that Snapchat did nothing to attempt to warn the public about the risks of its use may affect the outcome of the civil suit, in which Maynard is seeking damages from both McGee and Snapchat for his medical bills and the ongoing care he will need because of his injuries. The outcome of the case is one to watch as it may be important for other, similar cases in the future.