As technology improves and expands, Rhode Island drivers face an increasing number of distractions while driving. Smart phones, navigation systems, in-vehicle entertainment, and a host of other devices can have deadly consequences for a driver who allows them to divert his or her attention from the road. This increasingly pervasive problem demands answers to an important question: how can these devices be made safer for use in vehicles?
The Rise of Do Not Disturb Features
Business Insider reports that Apple will release an expansive “Do Not Disturb While Driving” function for the iPhone with the iOS 11 operating system (due for release in late 2017). This comes after multiple wrongful death lawsuits have been filed against the tech giant.
- The New York Times reported on a lawsuit arising out of a fatal accident in Texas. Ashley Kubiak checked her text messages while speeding down a highway. She crashed into a sport utility vehicle, killing two occupants and leaving a child paralyzed. The families of the victims sued Apple for wrongful death, alleging that the company knew its phones would be used for texting while driving.
- Another fatal accident led to a separate lawsuit against Apple in Santa Clara County, California. According to the Guardian, Bethany and James Modisette were driving with their two young daughters when another driver crashed into their vehicle. All four were injured, and one of their daughters later died as a result of the car accident. The other driver had been video chatting through the FaceTime application at the time of the accident. The Modisettes’ lawsuit alleges that Apple failed to implement any settings or safety features to discourage the use of FaceTime while driving, despite holding a patent for such technology at the time the accident occurred.
The Guardian further reports that, while legal experts do not believe such lawsuits will prevail against Apple, they are nonetheless problematic for the company, because they have proven that Apple holds patents for Do Not Disturb technologies. This demonstrates that Apple has long known that phone use while driving is dangerous. Apple’s comprehensive Do Not Disturb While Driving feature is one way to address these dangers (and mitigate Apple’s legal liability). Other smart phone manufacturers are also exploring similar features and settings.
A Setting is Never Enough
No technology can completely eradicate distracted driving from the roads of Rhode Island. Individual drivers must accept personal responsibility for practicing safe driving habits, and choose to avoid distractions both inside and outside of the vehicle. Teens are especially prone to the dangers of distracted driving. Their lack of driving experience and frequent use of technology can be a lethal combination. Parents are advised to set and enforce clear rules for the use of technology in the vehicle.
If you are involved in a distracted driving accident resulting in serious injuries or death, our law firm will work to help you recover damages.