Texting while driving causes far too many distracted driving accidents every year. But that pales compared to a Snapchat app that encourages users to take pictures to capture how fast they are driving. The app has caught public attention after a teen was in a 100 mile per hour accident resulting in serious injuries.
Wentworth Maynard is suing Snapchat, a popular social-media app that connects friends using photos and short videos. He was seriously injured after they were rear-ended by a driver using the app’s “speed filter.”
In Maynard’s case, an 18-year-old driver had clocked Snapchat photos going up to 113 mph. When she rear-ended Maynard’s car she was traveling 107 mph in a 55 mile per hour zone. Her friend and passenger, Heather McCarthy, told WSB-TV Atlanta:
I’m like, ‘What are you doing? Slow down! . . . I asked her, ‘Did that keep up with the speed of the car?’ And she said, ‘Yeah.’ She was trying to hit 100 miles an hour and post it on Snapchat.’”
The driver and her three passengers suffered injuries, but Maynard suffered the most from the accident. He ended up in a coma with a traumatic brain injury and spent 5 weeks in intensive care. He now has permanent disabilities making him unable to continue his work as an Uber driver. He uses a walker or wheelchair to get around.
Distracted driving is an increasingly common and dangerous practice. By taking their eyes and minds off the road, drivers run the risk of not being able to respond to emergencies. The faster the car is traveling, the more you miss while sending a text or snapping a picture.
The question for the court, as Vocativ.com put it, is whether “an app can be blamed for one driver’s spectacular poor judgment.” Does the fact that Snapchat encourages drivers to take photos while driving fast make the company liable for the injuries those drivers cause?
Social media companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat should be doing what they can to discourage distracted driving. If Snapchat has an app that can capture the speed of a person’s vehicle, they should be using it to protect motorists from distracted driving, not encourage it. Regardless of legal liability, Snapchat needs to take responsibility for the harm done by drivers using their program and make it clear to their drivers not to snap and drive.
David Christensen is an auto accident attorney at Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan. He represents the victims of distracted driving accidents, getting them the compensation they need from insurance companies and at-fault drivers. If you have been injured by a distracted driver, contact Christensen Law today for a free consultation.