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Class-Action Lawsuit Demands Apple Block Users from Texting and Driving

Texting and Driving

Apple is facing a legal battle in California for neglecting to implement technology that would prevent iPhone owners from texting behind the wheel.

Filed on Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the class-action suit alleges that Apple has possessed the ability to disable texting since 2008, and was granted a patent on it by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2014. The lawsuit wants the company to stop all iPhone sales until it installs safety-oriented software on all devices “new and old” via an update. Representatives for plaintiff Julio Ceja highlight the persistent risks involved with texting and driving, citing research that attributes cell phone usage to 26 percent of all car accidents in United States. Ceja was stopped at a red light when his vehicle struck from behind by a driver who was using her iPhone. Despite the singular plaintiff, the trial is set up to represent all California residents deemed at risk as a result of Apple neglecting to install a lock-out feature on its mobile devices.

In November, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued “voluntary guidelines” for smartphone makers, urging companies to develop a way to prevent access to non-driving tasks such as web browsing, video playback, camera functions, and text messaging whenever a vehicle is in motion. The move met with immediate criticism.

Apple has faced similar lawsuits in the past. The company saw legal action from a family struck by a driver using FaceTime on Christmas Eve, 2014, and another family hit by a woman who was checking her iPhone messages from behind the wheel of a Ram pickup in 2013.

In response to the 2013 incident, Apple said its official position was that responsibility falls on the operator of a vehicle to avoid distraction. “We discourage anyone from allowing their iPhone to distract them by typing, reading or interacting with the display while driving,” Apple said in a statement provided to The New York Times “For those customers who do not wish to turn off their iPhones or switch into Airplane Mode while driving to avoid distractions, we recommend the easy-to-use Do Not Disturb and Silent Mode features.”

Apple has yet to publicly comment on the current case.

8 Comments

  1. energetik9 says:

    I don’t contest that texting and driving is a significant issue, but this is stupid.
    I use my phone on the train, and a shuttle bus for part of my commute. How would the phone know that is was not driving? I have picked up my wife’s phone while she is driving and vice-versa, again, how would the phone know any different?

  2. PrincipalDan says:

    NM Roads has an app for road conditions etc and every time you open the app (or the mobile version of the site) a warning pops up “I promise I am not driving”.
    It always makes me smile because when are you most likely to need the info?

  3. JimZ says:

    “What about personal accountability?”
    “personal accountability” won’t put my leg back on after your texting @ss knocked me off of my motorcycle.
    people demonstrate over and over that they CANNOT be trusted to put the phone down and pay attention to the road. not one damn bit.
    personally, I’d like to see the law changed where if a police officer cites you for using a mobile device while driving, he/she *confiscates* your phone and you can get it back from the police station after paying the fine. That might get the message across.

  4. madman2k says:

    I think this is ridiculous, and if the cell phone companies are forced to implement it based on GPS-determined speed it would also prevent passengers in cars/buses/trains from using their phones as well.
    Kind of like in my truck, some of the features on the touch screen in the middle are locked out when I’m driving, so my wife can’t even use them even though there’s no way it would be distracting to me if she did.
    Of course for those using public transit, having a reason to actually talk to other humans in public again isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’d be a bitter thing if it were forced on us by taking away the ability to use our phones.

  5. Kendahl says:

    If Apple blocks texting while driving, the texters will just switch to a phone that lets them continue as usual. If it’s to be done at all, it must be by government regulation so that all phone manufacturers are affected.

  6. justVUEit says:

    I’m growing really tired of this nanny state nonsense.Any technical control put on the device can be bypassed. How about just growing up and putting the phone down?

  7. Kyree S. Williams says:

    I don’t see this going well for the plaintiffs. The argument that a device’s manufacturer is liable for any ways in which it can be misused to promote negligence and bodily injury…is a slippery one. The implications of ruling against Apple are huge.

  8. ponchoman49 says:

    Here we go again. Just as it’s the gun’s fault for killing someone and not the person shooting it or it’s the teacher’s fault because a student it acting rotten and has has a poor upbringing.
    And the answer to everything- throw scads of technology at it. Yes that will fix everything.

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