Amid reports of a startling increase in traffic fatalities and the role of electronic devices in distracted driving accidents, a family who lost their daughter are suing Apple for encouraging distracted driving with its FaceTime app.
The Modisettes were driving with their daughters Isabella and Moriah on interstate I-35 just north of Dallas when the car was hit by another car after it slowed down to anticipate traffic caused by an accident. Their daughter Moriah, who was just 5 years old, was extracted from the wreck and eventually died from the injuries she suffered. Officers who stepped in at the scene found that the driver who hit the family was on FaceTime at the time of the crash.
According to Insurance companies, via the New York Times, electronic devices are increasingly implicated in distracted driving deaths. The New York Times also reports that the increase in highway fatalities is the biggest in 50 years. There is confusion about how much distraction drivers can take on the road, with some suggesting that even the warnings and prompts from some newer vehicles can cause distraction, and that hands-free technology only takes some of the risk out of distracted driving.
However effective their efforts, technology and auto companies have begun to endeavor to combat these digital distractions by reducing distraction as much as possible, but the Modisettes’ argument was that Apple hadn’t even made their best efforts to do that. The case revealed that Apple had the patent for a safer version of its “FaceTime” app, which would prevent people using the app from while driving, but had failed to implement it.
The Modisettes argued that Apple had the technology to shut down the app while a user was driving since at least the end of 2008, and more specifically, the company possessed the capability to use GPS tracking to measure the speed of a vehicle in which a user was traveling. Given that the app goes beyond audio to engage the user in visual activity, the family argued that the distraction was a particularly dangerous one.
With traffic fatalities on the rise and insurance companies placing the blame on digital technology, auto and technology companies need to respond to the potential for harm by designing their products with drivers in mind.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a distracted driving accident involving digital technology such as SnapChat or FaceTime, please contact the boston car accident lawyers at Parker Scheer for a free, confidential consultation.