A California man’s lawsuit brings to the lime light the issues of whether or not technology companies have a personal responsibility to curb dangerous behavior when individuals use their technology. The issue at question is texting when driving. This is not an issue that has gone away – even with now countless marketing campaign against it from telecommunication companies, motor vehicle agencies, and independent organizations. eTags, a motor vehicle service provider, has posted articles on its blog in the past about the dangers of distracted driving. The AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that 58% of teen driving accidents are caused by distractions and a good percentage of this is from cell phone use.
In the lawsuit, a man who was rear-ended is suing Apple because his lawyers say that Apple has the technology to stop drivers from texting when they’re behind the wheel. They point to a patent Apple filed called “Driver Handheld Computing Device Lockout” which uses a motion analyzer and scenery analyzer to determine when a person is driving. Essentially, when the technology determines the person is behind the wheel and driving, it can lock the person out of the phone. The plaintiff wants a judge to halt all Apple sales in the state until the lockout feature is implemented.
Obviously, there are some lengthy ethics and personal freedoms issues here that will be discussed in court, but it does provide continued evidence that texting and driving is still a serious concern. And it is one that might not be even solvable with technology alone. In that eTags blog post mentioned above, it makes a point that people are quite adept at bypassing technology in order to do what they want. The best thing to do is advocate and practice personal responsibility. Other measures may include making texting and driving laws more strict and imposing more severe penalties for those confirmed to have caused a crash because of cell-phone distracted activity.
For parents, this means enforcing rules and teaching teen drivers about the dangers of using a cell phone when behind the wheel. For everyone, this could mean taking the temptation away. Motorists could turn the phone off before entering the car or throw the phone in the trunk so there’s no way to access it when driving. The key is to do anything possible to avoid distracted driving. We’ll have to see what the role of the technology provider will be in achieving this goal.