The problem of not paying attention to the road when you’re driving isn’t new. There is always something out there ready to distract the driver. It might be a great song on the radio, a cup of coffee, or the burger you’re trying not to drip onto your clothes. It might also be your smartphone and now people are filing lawsuits against Apple saying the maker of the iPhone is to blame.
The US government is already on board with placing the responsibility for limiting smartphone usage on the companies who make these gadgets. Despite technology that allows drivers to pair their phones to their cars and potentially reduce distraction, along with laws that won’t even let you touch your phone when you’re at the wheel, it’s not enough in the government’s eyes.
Initially, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) focused their efforts on getting automakers to build systems in their vehicles that made it easier to put down your phone. The ability to pair your phone to your vehicle and then initiate voice-activated commands to make calls or send texts was part of this initiative.
The second phase focuses on the companies that build smartphones. The guidelines are only guidelines, not laws, but the government hopes developers will jump on board with the idea. One of the items it calls for is a Driver Mode that lets your phone work, but in a limited and simplified way so you’re less likely to be distracted.
Meanwhile, a good chunk of the public isn’t paying any attention to these guidelines or the road. Even laws haven’t convinced people to put down their phones and drive. Accidents are still happening and a class action lawsuit in California says Apple isn’t doing enough to combat the problem.
The complaint alleges that Apple has the ability to put lock-out devices on the iPhone that would keep people from using one while driving. They might have the power to do this, but they haven’t, which the lawsuit sees as irresponsible.
This lawsuit comes courtesy of Julio Ceja who was hurt when he was rear-ended by a driver who was using her iPhone. They’re looking to halt the sale of iPhones in the state of California until they are fitted with lock-out devices and demanding all existing iPhones be updated with the device.
This feels a little like the famous hot coffee lawsuit from McDonald’s. That lawsuit gave us super helpful warning labels so we now know our hot coffee is hot. Before the label, how could you possibly know you might burn yourself with a hot cup of coffee? Oddly, people still manage to burn themselves despite the labels.
Will a lock-out device on iPhones fares any better?