This this past August, representatives from Apple appeared in court to argue that the company was not responsible for injuries a plaiantiff sustained due to a distracted driving accident caused by another driver who was texting on an iPhone when the crash occurred. MacRumors reported that the plaintiff filed a Class Action lawsuit during January 2017 claiming that Apple placed profit before consumer safety by choosing not to implement a lock-out mechanism that would disable functionality when the user was driving. Apple’s attorney argued that that the driver chose to misuse the iPhone while operating the vehicle and that Apple should not be blamed simply because the company manufactured the device.
Apple maintains that the user is responsible for the misuse of an iPhone, but the company is fulfilling its corporate social responsibility and taking a step to prevent distracted driving accidents. Apple’s recent software update – IOS 11—has a new Do Not Disturb While Driving feature. Users can block calls, text messages, and other alerts from coming through while the driving. WKBN 27 Ohio reported that users can set this feature to turn on automatically when they get behind the wheel. There is also a setting that will send automatic responses to incoming messages to let contacts know that the user is driving.
Lindsey Turrentine of CNET explains “What it does is silent notifications so they don’t distract you and in this case, they won’t even show up on the screen.” Once enabled, the Do Not Disturb While Driving feature automatically turns on when the user’s phone connects to the car’s Bluetooth system or accelerometer, which tells when the car is in motion.
If drivers are unaware that they are getting a call or receiving a text message while they are driving, would they be less likely to be distracted? A recent blog reported that in 27% of distracted driving accidents, the driver was distracted by a cell phone. However, National Safety Council suggests that cellphone use during auto accident is under-reported. In an ideal world, if all drivers had access to this Do Not Disturb While Driving feature, about one quarter of all distracted driving accidents could be prevented.
Do Not Disturb While Driving also targets one of the most at risk groups: Teenagers. During September 2016 Legal Lookout reported that 60 % of all car accidents involving teens were caused by distracted driving. Cell phones were the second leading cause of teen distracted driving accidents, behind distractions caused by other passengers. If it’s too much to expect teens to be mature or responsible enough to enable this feature on their own, parents can turn this feature on for their teenage driver and password protect it to prevent their child from disabling the feature, WILX NBC reported.
Parents who are worried about their teen drivers can make contact in an emergency. According to Mac Rumors, a person who is trying to contact the vehicle operator via text can break through Do Not Disturb While Driving by sending a second “urgent” text. In the event of an emergency, the Pennsylvania auto accident lawyers at Ostroff Law suggest that drivers pull over to the side of the road and park in a safe place to check the message and respond.