Snapchat 'Speed Filter' led to Georgia car crash, lawsuit alleges
Snapchat's speed tracker rewards users who submit photos of their speed by giving them points, the lawsuit notes.
BY ELIZABETH CHUCK, NBC News
(NBC News) - Lawyers for a man with permanent brain damage are suing a driver and Snapchat after they say the speed tracker on the social media platform caused the car crash that injured him.
Christal McGee, of Spalding County, Georgia, was driving a Mercedes Benz at about 11:15 p.m. on Sept. 10, 2015, while using a filter on Snapchat that tracks how fast users are moving, alleges the lawsuit, which was filed of behalf of victim Wentworth Maynard earlier this month.
McGee wanted to post an image of herself going fast, so she "pushed the speed of her Mercedes to above 80 miles per hour. McGee then pushed the speed of her Mercedes to above 90 miles per hour. And McGee continued to push the speed of her Mercedes to above 100 miles per hour," according to the lawsuit, filed by attorney Michael Lawson Neff.
Snapchat's speed tracker rewards users who submit photos of their speed by giving them points, the suit notes. By the time McGee collided with Maynard's Mitsubishi, she was driving approximately 107 mph on a Clayton County, Georgia, boulevard that has a speed limit of 55 mph.
"McGee was traveling so fast, there was no time to react. Maynard's car was struck so violently it shot across the left lane into the left embankment," a statement on Neff's firm's website said.
Maynard, who was just starting his shift as an Uber driver, suffered a severe traumatic brain injury. He spent five weeks in a hospital intensive care unit after the crash, lost 50 pounds, and can no longer work, much less take care of himself, Neff said.
"The issue really is about distracted teenage drivers. It's about Snapchat encouraging teenagers to drive at fast speed for social status," Neff told NBC News, adding that neither McGee, who he said is 18 now, nor Snapchat have responded to the suit.
Petitions on Change.org have called on Snapchat to eliminate the speed tracker, Neff said.
"It's a national safety issue," he said.
In a statement to NBC News, a Snapchat spokesperson said, "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."
According to Neff, McGee posted a shot of herself on Snapchat after the crash with blood dripping down her forehead with the caption, "Lucky to be alive." She could not be reached by NBC News.
It isn't clear what the extent of her injuries were, or if the three passengers who were in her car were injured.
McGee could not be reached. It was unclear if she had yet obtained legal representation.