Distracted driving is an up-and-coming problem for law enforcement officials all over the country, from the mountains of Provo, Utah to the beaches of the East Coast. While distracted driving — most often texting — is a proven contributor to numerous auto accident injuries and lawyer calls across the country, can the same be said for specific smartphone apps?
One Georgia-based man thinks so. After getting into an accident caused by another driver’s use of Snapchat, one man has decided to sue the photo messaging company for damages. After the plaintiff — one Wentworth Maynard — suffered severe brain damage in the accident, his lawyer decided that the driver responsible for the accident’s car insurance was not enough to cover her victim’s injuries and decided to go after Snapchat instead.
Snapchat has been a factor in a number of different accidents as of late, in part due to its speedometer feature. The app’s “speed filter” allows users to send snapchats to their friends with their current speed overlayed onto the photo — a filter that has some drivers in Provo and elsewhere vying to see exactly how fast they can get. Snapchat has been involved in a few different serious auto accident situations, including a two-car crash in Philadelphia, a high-speed crash in Brazil and a fatal crash in Manchester, U.K.
Snapchat was not officially implicated in these three crashes; however, Maynard’s lawyer thinks he has a case. Arguing that Snapchat’s speed filter creates an incentive for motorists to drive recklessly, Maynard’s lawyer believes the company should shell out money for damages.
While Snapchat has not commented on this particular lawsuit, the company has stated that, “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.” Whether this warning is sufficient remains to be seen.
While Snapchat has yet to cause an accident in Provo, all residents should avoid snapping and driving. To best avoid an auto accident, just focus on the road.