Teen on Snapchat crashed car at 107 mph, lawsuit claims

Technically Incorrect: A teenage girl crashes a Mercedes while using a Snapchat filter that records speed. The victim, an Uber driver, is suing her and Snapchat over life-altering injuries.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

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A snap obtained by Maynard's lawyers.

MLNlaw screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Christal McGee wanted to see how fast she could drive and share the speed on Snapchat.

This, at least, is the allegation in a new lawsuit.

McGee, 18 at the time, was at the wheel of her father's Mercedes C230 in suburban Atlanta around 11 p.m. ET on September 10, 2015. In her car were co-workers from the restaurant where she worked.

She allegedly pulled out her phone and opened a Snapchat filter that records speed and overlays it on a picture you take. She accelerated.

Uber driver Wentworth Maynard's car was struck by McGee's car, which was traveling at 107 mph, according to the suit.

A statement from Maynard's lawyers said he suffered serious brain damage and spent five weeks in intensive care. He needs assistance to walk and is unable to work.

Maynard's lawyers aren't simply suing McGee for negligence. They're also suing Snapchat.

The lawsuit alleges that Snapchat knew that people were using its filter while driving. In one case, saif the lawyers, someone drove at 142 mph and posted the results.

Maynard's lawyers want McGee and Snapchat to pay their client's medical bills and the lifelong care that he now requires.

They claim that Snapchat knew the filter was being used by people doing dangerous things. Snapchat, they allege, refused to do anything about it.

Snapchat wouldn't discuss the specifics of this case. However, a spokesman told me Thursday: "No Snap is more important than someone's safety. 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."

Snapchat believes that the filter has many safe uses, such as in planes or while out on a jog.

The company's terms of service specifically state: "Do not use our Services in a way that would distract you from obeying traffic or safety laws. And never put yourself or others in harm's way just to capture a Snap." I wonder how many Snapchat users have read these words or, even if they had, would care.

Maynard's lawyers obtained a snap sent by McGee in an ambulance after her crash. Pictured in a head brace and bloodied, she captioned the photo: "Lucky to be alive."