We may not want to talk about it or admit it but winter is just around the corner. Hardy Montana residents know that comes with new sets of challenges, especially when driving. Aside from snow and ice, drivers must be alert to vehicles on the side of the road, distracted or sleepy drivers and, of course, wildlife. With all the beauty Montana has to offer, it also has one of the highest highway fatality rates in the nation.
Recently, a lawsuit filed against Apple related to a 2013 auto accident in Texas caused by a distracted driver posed a serious question we may want to consider: Do cell phone companies have a duty to prevent their devices from working while a driver is behind the wheel? Apple has a patent for such technology but it is unclear whether or not they have developed it.
Apple claims if they open up this technology when other companies don’t, they could potentially lose a lot of business. They also claim doing so would disable phones of the driver’s passengers and that they are unable to exclude the application from turning devices off while they are traveling on a train or bus where the users are clearly not at risk for distracted driving.
However, when the patent was filed in 2008, Apple stated this type of technology was needed because the problem of texting and driving has grown and that it’s unlikely police will be able to make a significant impact at preventing the practice.
Other service providers offer free apps for iPhone and/or android phones that will prevent texting by detecting if the phone is used by the driver. In other instances, the use of a vehicle’s Bluetooth system will send an auto response indicating the driver cannot reply. Unfortunately, that still sends a message and could potentially reach another driver on the road.
Overall, distracted driving is dangerous. Across the U.S., in 2014 alone, 431,000 drivers were injured-over 3,000 were fatal. If you suspect your auto accident was caused by a distracted driver, speaking with an experienced attorney who can obtain all the relevant facts and discuss how the laws apply to your particular situation will be beneficial.