Drivers, passengers, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians are injured every day on the roads of Spokane. Distracted driving has become a problem across the nation, and Washingtonians are not immune to the dangerous effects of this public health crisis.
In recent years, tech giant Apple has been involved in many wrongful death lawsuits. The New York Times reported on one such lawsuit filed in Texas. The negligent party, Ashley Kubiak, was checking her text messages while speeding down a highway. Her car crashed into a sport utility vehicle, killing two occupants and leaving a child paralyzed. The families of the victims sued Apple for wrongful death. They alleged that the company knew its phones would be used for texting while driving, they have the technology to prevent these occurrances, and yet they did not prevent users from using its products dangerously. The Guardian reports that, while legal experts do not believe that similar 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 known for a long time that phone use while driving is dangerous.
What is the Solution?
In response to this and similar lawsuits, Apple focused on improving its No Not Disturb functions. 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). However, this function will also have user prompts to override it (so that passengers, for example, will not be locked out when their phones sense they are in a moving vehicle). While this is a necessary accommodation, it nonetheless demonstrates the key problem with Do Not Disturb functions: a driver must actually use them in order to prevent distraction.
Another problem with Do Not Disturb functions? “The technology exists—we just don’t have the stomach to implement it,” says Deborah Hersman, president of the National Safety Council and the former chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board. She added: “We’re so afraid to tell people what they should do that you can kind of get away with murder under these conditions.” While not all proponents of Do Not Disturb technology share Ms. Hersman’s strident opinions, these statements nonetheless illustrate the problem with regulating such features. Popular opinion tends to disfavor any limitation on personal choice.
Ultimately, no technology or regulation can remove all risk of distracted driving. It falls to individual drivers to accept personal responsibility for eliminating distractions while driving. Injuries are best prevented by avoiding accidents altogether, and accidents are best avoided by paying close attention to the road. If you believe your crash was the result of distracted driving, our lawyers will work to help you recover damages for lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering.