Judge Throws Out Apple Lawsuit Relating To Distracted Driving

distracted driving accident

Should the manufacturer of a phone be held responsible for an automobile accident that was caused by someone using one of their phones while driving? It’s a question that likely isn’t going to disappear anytime soon, but at least according to one California judge, the answer is no.

According to Apple Insider, a class action lawsuit was filed against Apple in Los Angeles, California in January of 2017. The suit included victims and loved ones of victims who died in automobile accidents that were caused by a driver using an iPhone while behind the wheel. The suit claims that Apple had the technology to prevent texting while driving since 2008, and had a patent for it since 2014. The suit alleges that Apple refused to implement the technology as they were afraid it would cause them to lose sales to other phone manufacturers who weren’t using such technology. As a result, iPhone owners were able to text (or otherwise use their phone) while driving, injuring and killing others on the road. The plaintiffs wanted Apple to be held accountable for allowing drivers to be able to use their iPhones while driving.

But according to a circuit court judge in Santa Monica, California, it’s unreasonable to hold Apple accountable for the ultimate harm that is caused by an accident in which an iPhone was involved. As a result, the case was thrown out in August of 2017. Had the suit gone to trial, the plaintiffs were asking for Apple to halt production of iPhones in California until they would be manufactured with “lock out” technology, and that all current iPhones be updated to include the technology that prevents drivers from being able to use their iPhone while driving.

texting while driving accident

That ultimately didn’t happen, as the case was thrown out. But in the meantime, Apple has launched a new setting called “Do Not Disturb While Driving”, as part of their iOS 11 software update. As The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC blog previously mentioned, when enabled, Do Not Disturb While Driving mutes calls, notifications, and text messages, and keeps the screen dark. iPhone owners can also have the feature auto-reply to text messages, letting the contact know that the person is driving.

The safe driving feature turns on automatically when it detects an accelerating vehicle, or drivers can program the setting to turn on whenever the phone connects to their vehicle’s Bluetooth. There is an “I’m Not Driving” option for those who are riding in a car as a passenger, but of course there’s nothing really stopping the driver from claiming they are not driving, in order to be able to use their phone. Because of this, some feel as though the feature doesn’t go far enough to prevent a driver from engaging in distracted driving behaviors. They believe that Do Not Disturb While Driving should turn on automatically, without the driver having to enable it, and that there should be no option to turn it off. For similar smart phone apps that lock drivers out of their phones while driving, check out this blog post from The Michigan Law, Firm, PLLC.

While there may not be a perfect solution yet, it is clear that a solution is desperately needed. Distracted driving is one of the most dangerous driving behaviors a driver can engage in, risking not only their life, but the lives of everyone else on the road as well. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,477 people were killed in distracted driving car accidents in 2015 alone. On top of that 391,000 people were injured in distracted driving car crashes.

distracted driving accident lawyer

The aforementioned Apple lawsuit cites data from the United States Department of Transportation, which reports that 1.5 million people are texting while driving at any given moment. They also cite data from the California Highway Patrol and the Federal Highway Administration which notes that iPhones specifically caused 52,000 automobile accidents in California each year, as well as 312 deaths in 2015.

Regardless of whether or not Apple should be held responsible for automobile accidents caused by iPhones, the lesson here is that distracted driving is incredibly dangerous. While features like Do Not Disturb While Driving and other apps that lock drivers out of their phones while in a vehicle are helpful, it’s ultimately the driver’s choice as to whether or not they use their phone while driving, not the manufacturer's. No text or phone call or playlist is nearly important enough to take your eyes off the road, and could mean injury or death for you, your passengers, and other people on the road.


Distracted driving in any form is absolutely never okay. Regardless of whether or not your phone has technology that can prevent you from using it while driving, it's ultimately up to you to decide to put the phone down when you're behind the wheel. Even if you can choose to put the phone down however,  you can't control other people's actions, and car accidents can still happen. If you have been the victim of a distracted driving accident, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free legal consultation.  

Apple Unveils Highly Anticipated iPhone X

September marks a lot of things - back to school, the return of Pumpkin Spice Lattes, and for the past few years, a new iPhone. This year was no different, as on September 12, 2017, Apple announced their highly anticipated iPhone X (pronounced iPhone 10 like the roman numeral), in honor of the 10 year of the iPhone. The Apple Event, which took place at Apple’s new Steve Jobs Auditorium in Cupertino, California, was so highly anticipated that some thought it would be as revolutionary as the day Apple announced the very first iPhone, back in 2007.

According to The New York Times, The iPhone X features new technology and design that puts it far ahead of Apple’s existing iPhones, living up to the hype that was created by leaks spread prior to the launch. The aspect of the iPhone X that many will find most striking is the price - $1000. This makes it Apple’s most expensive iPhone to date, by a margin of a few hundred dollars.

So what does $1000 get you in an iPhone? The Washington Post reported that physically speaking, the design is different from anything Apple has previously released. While the phone is essentially the same size and shape as the iPhone 7, the screen is bigger as it is “edge-to-edge,” covering the entire surface of the phone, and wrapping around the edges for an immersive visual experience. This screen design is something Apple has been hoping to achieve for years. The display features an OLED screen, a higher quality screen than its predecessor, the LCD screen. The phone is also made entirely out of glass. While this may make it sound fragile, the iPhone X is dust and water resistant, and 50% more durable than any glass Apple has previously made.  

Another noticeable physical difference is the lack of a home button. On existing iPhones, the home button is what users press to awaken and unlock the phone with Touch ID (fingerprint scanning technology), as well as to close an app and return to the home screen. Since the home button is gone, so is Touch ID. Instead, the iPhone X boasts Face ID, face scanning technology that unlocks the phone by scanning the user’s face, as opposed to their fingerprint. Once the phone is unlocked, tasks such as closing an app are performed by the user making specific gestures with their fingers on the screen.

In addition to the physical differences, the iPhone X sports some software upgrades as well. The phone has faster processing speeds, and a better camera that takes higher quality pictures. The phone also boasts improved battery efficiency, as well as wireless charging. Instead of being plugged into an outlet, the phone will charge on charging mats called AirPower mats. Apple says we can expect to see these mats in hotels, cafes, and even in cars sometime in the near feature. One of the most surprising features of the phone however, may be Animoji; yes, animated emojis. The program uses the facial recognition software to scan your facial expressions, and recreate them on animated emojis, most of which are animals, but of course the poop emoji is included as well!

Source: Apple Press Release

Apple’s iPhone X had a lot of hype to live up to, and it seems to have met those expectations. The new design and upgraded software elements clearly differentiate the phone from anything Apple has done before. One thing it has in common with all phones, however, is the ability to cause distracted driving accidents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state there are 3 kinds of distracted driving - visual, which takes your eyes off the road, manual, which takes your hands off the wheel, and cognitive, which takes your mind off of driving. Cell Phones are especially dangerous because using one can result in all three types of distracted driving at once.

So while, new technology such as the iPhone X can be groundbreaking and exciting, we're glad that Apple is also looking out for driver safety with apps like Do Not Disturb While Driving. Apple’s iPhone X and their latest software iOS11 come standard with this distracted driving prevention app. When enabled while driving, the iPhone displays a black screen, and notifications for text messages and phone calls are silenced. To learn more about this feature and the dangers of distracted driving, check out this recent article from The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC blog. After all, looking away from the road and at a text from your friend about the most recent character death on Game of Thrones is not worth getting into a distracted driving car accident. 


Distracted driving happens every day, especially in our technology filled age, in which toddlers have iPhones. If you or a loved one have been the victim of a car crash caused by a negligent driver with a cell phone, call The Michigan Law Firm at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free legal consultation. Our attorneys fight for our clients' rights and work hard to get any compensation they may be entitled to, under Michigan Law.

New Apple Technology Seeks to Break Bad Driving Habits

Distracted Driving Car Accident Attorney

Do-do-do! Your iPhone goes off from the car's cup holder signaling a text message. You pick it up to read it while simultaneously switching to the far left lane on the freeway and speeding up. It’s your best friend. The text says that he needs to call you right now to talk about last night's episode of The Walking Dead. You turn down the radio and dial his number as you grab a fry out of your McDonald's bag and stuff it into your mouth. With both hands off the wheel, you accidentally serve into the lane to your right. The car behind you and the car to your right honk! You abruptly drop your phone and use both hands to get back in your lane. Now you hear your phone ringing but it's lodged in the space between your seat and the center console. You sigh and try to fish it out while driving singlehandedly.

Sound familiar?

This is what it is like to drive distracted - something many of us have done but hate to admit. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that, daily there are about 660,000 drivers who use their cell phones while driving. The constant need to multi-task and the busy work life of hundreds of thousands of Americans endanger the safety of everyone on the road.

Therefore, as technology continues to develop, companies are being challenged to develop products that are not only new and improved, but that keep individuals safe while driving. Many cars already have wireless programs that allow drivers to talk on their phone or respond verbally to text messages without having to take their eyes of the road or their hands off the wheel. However, cell phones are still easy to check and within reach of the steering wheel, making cell phone usage while driving a lethal combination.

Michigan Distracted Driving Car Crash

Apple’s latest software, iOS 11, has been created with these distracted drivers in mind. Its newest feature, called Do Not Disturb While Driving (DNDWD), is designed to prevent people from checking their phones while driving a car. Engadget tried out the new software and explained that the program uses Bluetooth or WiFi doppler effect to determine how fast a phone's user is moving. If an iPhone user is moving at high speeds, like those achieved while riding in a car, a blank screen will appear if the user tries to use the phone, in order to shield drivers from the constant flow of notifications and alerts. There is however an option to disable DNDWD when the program prompts users to say whether or not they are the drivers, thereby allowing passengers in moving cars to freely use their mobile devices.

The feature also has the capability to auto-reply to text messages, telling your phone contacts that you are driving and will view their messages when you reach your destination. There is even an option to customize certain contacts, allowing them to text back “urgent” to have their text message come through even if Do Not Disturb While Driving is on. Obviously, this feature is only intended to be used in case of emergency. While no software can prevent complete distraction, iOS 11 is Apple’s way of making iPhones safer for drivers. These efforts may dramatically decrease distracted driving.

Source: GIPHY, FX's  Louie

Source: GIPHY, FX's Louie

One demographic that can definitely benefit from DNDWD is teenagers. Teens are the largest age group reported to have engaged in distracted driving behavior when involved in fatal car crashes. Young people also make up the majority of smartphone users in the United States. With DNDWD, Apple has discovered an easy way to save the lives of many of its teenage iPhone users, even marketing the idea of safe driving as “cool.”

Teens aside, distracted driving is not something for adults to take lightly either. Distracted driving may lead to serious injuries and death from car collisions in any age group. Alarmingly, 3,477 people were killed by distracted driving accidents in 2015 alone. Parents need to lead by example for their children, who may make the excuse that “Mom does it,” to use their phone while driving. In some states, it is against the law to text, talk on the phone, or participate in other distractions while driving. Yet time and time again, adult drivers pick up their cell phone while also driving on the road. Citizens of Michigan are especially guilty of this action since cellphone usage while driving is not illegal in Michigan. By utilizing Apple’s Do Not Disturb While Driving feature, drivers of all ages, Michiganders included, have even less of an excuse to drive distracted and are encouraged to choose to be safe rather than sorry.

Aside from any emergency situations, most motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted driving are completely avoidable. The next time you drive, consider the serious and deadly consequences of driving while distracted. Pick your radio station before leaving the driveway, save the snacks for the dinner table, do your makeup and shave in a bathroom mirror, and keep your pet securely fastened away from the driver. Most importantly and most easily, keep your phone in the back seat, in a purse or bag, or just simply turn it off. If a phone must be kept on, use programs designed for your safety, such as DNDWD, to help break the bad habit of checking every text, game notification or Instagram post, while driving. Explaining to the ER doctor that you wrapped your car around a tree because you needed an update on the Tigers game is not fun.

Source: GIPHY, SmallBizTechnology.com

Source: GIPHY, SmallBizTechnology.com


Distracted driving is a constant threat to drivers and passengers. Cell phones are a common form of distraction, taking driver's eyes, hands, and ears off the road, possibly leading to a car crash. If you or someone you know has been been the victim of a motor vehicle collision caused by distracted driving, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM. Our firm offers free consultations for those who need assistance in navigating their legal options while recovering from their car accident injuries.

Hands Free Technology in Cars Makes Driving Safer

Could driving while using your smartphone make the roads safer? Well, we are about to soon find out, as automotive companies are partnering up with Android and iOS operating systems, allowing consumers to start seeing some added technology to their driving experience. As people become more connected, so will the things around them, especially as a part of the "auto industry's strategy and new product development," says Project Manager Andrew Brenner from Google's Android Auto.

In January, in Detroit, Michigan, Brenner spoke at the Automotive News World Congress and said, "Consumers are finally starting to shop for cars with the expectation that the vehicles operate with the technology, design and pace of innovation that they are used to with their mobile phones."

 

Texting and Driving Car Accident

Digital technology is vastly changing the driving experience from “connecting” to being “connected.” Consumers, under the strain of trying to use their phones in the safest way possible while driving and being under the radar from law enforcement, can now gain better piece of mind that their mobile device will have full functionally on their dash.

Android Auto, for example, which launched back in 2015, already offers user many apps including Pandora, iHeartRadio and Skype. The platform, which has 60 partners as of January, 2016, and has plans of increasing by 20 more according to Benner, was designed “with safety in mind.” With future plans of adding Google Maps with voice-guided navigation, live traffic information, lane guidance, on-demand Google Play Music, and voice calling in addition to messaging abilities, Android Auto could potentially provide users with a better and safer driving experience.

"Anything we can do to reduce distraction for people in their cars-whether they have an Android or iPhone-I think is a huge benefit," says Brenner.

Like its competitor, Apple Carplay offers similar apps although with a slightly different interface. iPhone users can also expect to gain more connectivity and options in their motor vehicles in the years to come.

With more hands free access, lawmakers may have to adjusts the rules for driving while using a cellular device.

But the bigger debate may not be which platform is better for drivers, but whether this new technology will have an effect on smartphone related automobile accidents. The National Safety Council, a nonprofit organization that stands on advocating safety for over 100 years, seems to think so. Back in 2012, the organization published a study titled “Understanding the Distracted Brain: Why Driving While Using Hands-Free Cell Phones is Risky Behavior,” indicating that cognitive use is a form of “distracted driving,” pointing at hands-free phones as the risky behavior. It’s no secret distracted driving incidents inflate lawsuits, injuries, and deaths. Subsequently, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and the automotive industry should get ready as cognitive distraction may become a hot topic in the coming future.

If you or someone you know has been involved in an auto accident involving a distracted driver, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Our attorneys are highly experienced in handling all types of car crashes. Call us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.