We’ve just learned that Apple has the technology to save lives — more than 3,000 lives every year.
How? Apple has the technology to shut down its cell phones while people are driving.
The iPhone Lockout invention came to light as part of a products liability case in which the family of distracted driving victims accused Apple of knowingly selling a dangerous device. The products liability claim is unlikely to succeed. But the case has brought this important new technology to the forefront and posed the question of whether tech companies can and should do more.
A 21 year-old driver was staring at her phone screen on a summer afternoon in east Texas in 2013 when her Dodge truck rear ended a truck making a turn in front of her causing it to veer into oncoming traffic and get hit by an oncoming truck. The crash killed two women and paralyzed a 7-year-old boy who was rendered a paraplegic.
In its products liability lawsuit, the family claimed Apple knew its iPhone would be used to text, but did nothing to prevent consumers from doing so in a dangerous way. The lawsuit addressed the question as to whether Apple and other tech companies are responsible for the negligent use of their products.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in the Tyler Division of the Eastern District of Texas, number is 6:15-CV-715.
The texting driver was found guilty on two counts of criminally negligent homicide due to her cell phone use.
Texting while driving is a serious hazard, resulting in 3,179 fatalities and 431,000 injuries in 2014. Of course, the texters are responsible for their actions. But, if Apple can fix this problem, why doesn’t it?
In it’s lockout patent, Apple described why the device is necessary:
“Texting while driving has become so widespread that it is doubtful that law enforcement will have any significant effect on stopping the practice…. Teens understand that texting while driving is dangerous, but this is often not enough motivation to end the practice.”
It sure sounded like Apple was aware of the dangers.
The company now claims the technology has bugs. However safety experts believe the real reason that Apple is unwilling to install the lockout device has to do with profits. If a person can text while driving with another brand, he or she is likely to buy that phone instead.
The first company to employ this new technology takes a big risk. So all companies should make texting while driving impossible.
As a Texas auto accident attorney for 36 years, I have repeatedly seen the devastating consequences of texting while driving.
Driver distraction is one of the leading causes of traffic fatalities. Drivers are distracted over one-half of the time and are not looking at other cars around them.
I urge Apple, Samsung, and all other phone companies to install the lockout device on its next iPhone software update.