Cell phone use caused at least 391,000 traffic accidents and killed 3,477 people in the U.S. in 2015. But many drivers can’t break their addiction to this dangerous practice. A majority of people admit to texting while driving.
Apparently nothing short of the phone automatically shutting itself off can get texters to stop.
That’s the idea behind a long overdue feature on the newest version of the iPhone to be released this fall.
The Apple’s iOS 11 will automatically disable iPhones once the vehicle begins moving. That means you won’t receive calls or text messages or be able to use certain distracting apps while you drive.
Apple had a patent for this technology since 2008 according to a lawsuit filed in federal court in Tyler. It seeks damages on behalf of the estates of two women who were killed and a 7-year-old boy who was rendered a paraplegic when their SUV was rear ended in East Texas in 2013 by a woman who was texting while driving. Other similar lawsuits have been filed across the country.
This new software clearly should have been installed many years ago.
It’s not all bad news. You will still be able to use your phone to access GPS and music. And yes, you can still use your phone while you are a passenger in the car. The software allows passengers to override the Do Not Disturb While Driving feature. I hope that drivers will not ask their passengers to override this truly beneficial new feature, but I am sure some will.
Since you don’t want to go missing from your employer, family and your children’s school, Apple has included an automated notification that alerts people that you are driving and will return calls and texts when you stop.
In a related development, beginning on September 1st, texting while driving will be unlawful in Texas for the first time.
First time offenders are subject to a $25 ticket, not a very strong deterrent but at least it’s a start. The $100 ticket for a second offense might dissuade texters. And judges are likely to impose the maximum of $200 on repeat offenders.
If they are caught. The police cannot pull a driver over for texting.
However, just making rampant cell phone use illegal might make this dangerous conduct seem less acceptable.
Hopefully the new law will reduce distracted driving crashes and save lives. Coupled with this new software, this law is a step in the right direction.
From a personal injury perspective, the statewide ban also bolsters claims for damages made by victims of distracted driving. One of the first things an injury lawyer considers when preparing a lawsuit is whether the at-fault driver was texting at the time of the collision. He can subpoena phone records and look for other clues. A traffic citation might be used as evidence of the the driver’s negligence.