Technology is great, in that it gives us all kinds of advances that make our lives easier and more entertaining. But technology comes with risks, too. Fun apps like Snapchat are a great way to share updates with friends, but when used behind the wheel of a car, they become downright dangerous. Christal McGee is an 18-year-old Georgia driver who now certainly knows these dangers. She is being sued after she hit another car going 107 MPH because she was using Snapchat while driving.
The lawsuit against Christal, which was filed by Wentworth and Karen Maynard, alleges that Christal was using Snapchat while driving 3 of her friends on the night of September 10th. It goes on to say that Christal was distracted by the app when she slammed into Wentworth’s car going 107 MPH. In a statement, Wentworth’s lawyers said, “McGee wanted to post an image of herself going fast.” They continued, “She argued that she was, ‘Just trying to get the car to 100 miles per hour to post it on Snapchat.’’”
Snapchat has a “speed” filter that uses GPS technology to display how fast a person is moving. As Wentworth’s lawyers state, “The passenger in McGee’s Mercedes saw the speed on the Snapchat filter hit 113 miles per hour. McGee said ‘I’m about to post it.’ At that moment, the passengers saw the Mitsubishi ahead and screamed.” Apparently, after the collision, Christal continued to use Snapchat. She “snapped” one photo of herself on an ambulance stretcher and captioned it, “Lucky to be alive.”
While Christal and her passengers had only minor injuries, Wentworth suffered permanent brain damage from the crash, and he can no longer be left alone. Karen, Wentworth’s wife, wrote in a statement, “Wentworth would get up on his own, make his breakfast, go to work, and cook dinner. Now he’s so tired he falls asleep in his wheelchair during the day.”
Not only do Wentworth’s lawyers find Christal at fault, but they believe Snapchat is partly to blame, too. “Did [the “speed” filter’s] developers consider the impact it could have on the life of someone like Wentworth Maynard?” A spokesperson for Snapchat has responded by saying, “We actively discourage our community from using the ‘speed’ filter while driving, including by displaying a ‘Do NOT Snap and Drive’ warning message in the app itself.”
Wentworth and Karen are asking for damages in the case. No matter who is to blame, it’s a tragic story. Hopefully this will discourage everyone from using their phones behind the wheel. No snap, tweet, or text is worth a person’s life.