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Apple Blamed For Allowing Texting While Driving: Will The Lawsuit Hold Up In Court?

19 January 2017, 7:20 am EST By Aaron Mamiit Tech Times
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A class-action lawsuit filed in California accuses Apple of allowing texting while driving and demands that the company implement a system that will prevent drivers from engaging in the potentially fatal activity.

The lawsuit, filed by MLG Automotive Law at the Los Angeles County Superior Court, claims that Apple has had the technology to prevent accidents caused by texting while driving since 2008 but claims that the company has so far refused to implement it, as it fears to lose its market share to competitors.

Texting While Driving Lawsuit Against Apple

The class-action lawsuit revolves around plaintiff Julio Ceja, who had his vehicle rear-ended by an iPhone user who was texting while behind the wheel.

The lawsuit claims that the iPhone is the cause of 52,000 vehicular accidents in California annually, based on data acquired from the Federal Highway Administration and the California Highway Patrol, along with 312 fatalities annually on average. In addition, the lawsuit cites data coming from the United States Department of Transportation that says 1.5 million people are texting while driving at a given moment and that texting while driving is six times more dangerous compared to driving while drunk.

"Texting and driving has become one of the most serious issues that confronts all of us on a daily basis," said Jonathan Michaels, a founding member of MLG Automotive Law, adding that legislations against drivers will not be enough to tackle the problem.

The Demands Of The Texting While Driving Lawsuit

The lawsuit demands that Apple place a system in its iPhones that will lock people out from using the devices while they are driving. It points to a patent of Apple, filed back in 2008 and received in 2014, that describes a system to disable mobile devices from being used by drivers through so-called motion analyzers and scenery analyzers.

The motion analyzer will detect if the mobile device is moving at a certain speed, while the scenery analyzer will determine if the iPhone is located in a safe space in the vehicle, specifically in one of the passenger seats. If the system determines that the device is being used within a moving vehicle and the user is behind the wheel, the iPhone will be disabled.

The class-action lawsuit is seeking for the stoppage of all sales of the iPhone in California until Apple is able to launch the demanded lockout system to prevent texting while driving.

Should Apple Be Held Responsible?

There are some things that the class-action lawsuit fails to note, such as the current hands-free solutions provided by Apple such as CarPlay and hands-free Siri. In addition, Apple is the only manufacturer cited by the lawsuit, when devices manufactured by other companies are also likely being used to text while driving.

The question, therefore, is if Apple should be held responsible for the accidents involving iPhone users who are texting while driving and if the company should launch more initiatives such as a lockout system to prevent the dangerous practice.

The class-action lawsuit brings to mind a similar case filed against Apple over a fatal car accident that was said to be caused by the company's FaceTime app. The case points to the same patent mentioned in the lawsuit filed by MLG Automotive Law.

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