In 2013, a 20-year-old Minnesota college student was texting and driving when he crashed his scooter and subsequently died from his injuries. His family filed a lawsuit against Apple, claiming the company should be held responsible for the boy’s death as it “had a legal duty to help prevent texting while driving.”
A ruling in Apple’s favor
This week, Apple defeated the boy’s family in court. Superior Court Judge Maureen Folan sided with the iPhone maker, citing the company should not be held responsible for the unfortunate death. She added that Apple does not have any legal obligation to prevent texting and driving.
According to the judge’s ruling, “The chain of causation alleged by plaintiffs in this case is far too attenuated for a reasonable person to conclude that Apple’s conduct is or was a substantial factor in causing plaintiffs’ harm.” Judge Folan added that the “defendant Apple does not owe a duty of care to plaintiff.”
This doesn’t change the fact that Apple has been very vocal about its concern over texting and driving habits, and how it plans to help make streets safer for everyone behind the wheel.
How Apple is working on safer driving habits
Per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 3,477 lives lost in 2015 alone due to texting and driving. Apple is one of several companies that are working on ways to set better standards and create safer environments in the car and on the road.
One way Apple is looking to combat texting and driving is in its newest operating system, iOS11, specifically the Do Not Disturb While Driving feature. By using a patent that’s designed to provide a “lock-out mechanism” to prevent iPhone use by drivers, Apple is implementing the upgraded Do Not Disturb option.
By setting up the feature on your iPhone, the driver is unable to use the phone for texting or using any apps while behind the wheel.
Per MacRumors, who released thorough how-to guide on the feature: “While active, Do Not Disturb While Driving will mute incoming phone calls, notifications, and text messages, and your iPhone’s screen will stay dark. For texts, there is an option to send your contacts a message that lets them know you’re driving and will get back to them later.”
A hopeful future without texting and driving
While the outcome of the case wasn’t exactly what the family had hoped it would be, it certainly helped bring the discussion of texting and driving, and all of its dangers, to the forefront of discussion. Perhaps without the attention given to this case, Apple wouldn’t have been so set on developing newer features to help keep people safe. A person should never have to lose their life because of such a poor decision, but hopefully we won’t have to hear of so many anymore.