Driving fatalities are rising at levels not seen in half a century and many believe that distracted driving, including the use of electronic devices, is part of the problem. Some are asking if companies such as Apple or other cell phone providers have a duty to prevent devices from being used by drivers in dangerous or illegal ways.
Evidence that surfaced in a product liability case against Apple, related to an accident where 2 people perished and a child was seriously injured at the hands of a distracted driver, shows that the company applied for a patent on technology designed to prevent texting while driving.
When applying for the patent in 2008, the company acknowledged that lock-out technology is necessary because texting while driving is rampant and law enforcement is powerless to stop it. Since the patent was granted in 2014, Apple’s progress is unknown, however many believe that the technology already exists and cell phone companies are simply refusing to implement it for fear of losing customers.
Per a New York Times interview, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, who specializes in the moral and legal principles of liability seems to speak for those who have experienced devastating loss at the hands of distracted drivers. By not putting the technology in place, he believes that Apple has “failed in their social responsibility…they should’ve done it, and even done it at a market risk.”
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Source: New York Times, “Phone Makers Could Cut Off Drivers. Why Don’t They?”, by Matt Richtel, September 25, 2016.