Back in May of 2016, a case against Apple was dismissed after the family of a five-year-old girl who was killed in a traffic collision sued the tech giant. The Modisettes family sought damages for the incident because their car was rear-ended by another driver who was using FaceTime at the time of the accident. The 2014 crash occurred on Christmas Eve and led to the hospitalization of all three members of the car, including Moriah, who later died of her injuries.
Though it seemed that the burden of responsibility was placed on the other driver, the family sought justice against Apple who did not enable lockout technology on the iPhone 6, thereby resulting in the crash.
The family tried to hold Apple responsible for its “wrongful failure to install and implement the safer, alternative design for which it sought a patent in December 2008,” by claiming the iPhone 6 was defective for not having this technology.
The lockout feature can detect motion including high speeds as the user is driving. As such, the phone can disable a number of functions to provide a safer driving experience.
The case was initially dismissed in court back in May, a surprising result based on 2005 data that shows plaintiffs win 68% of the time in bench trials. Following the ruling, the family brought the case to appeals.
The ruling concluded that Apple “did not owe the Modisettes a duty of care” because the actions of individuals who use their technology are not the responsibility of the company.
But are you breaking the law if you’re using a hands-free device like Apple CarPlay and Android auto?
While most states have a ban on texting while driving, other uses including FaceTime and music applications, are often difficult to enforce.
In a recent survey regarding phone use while driving in Philadelphia, almost 75% of drivers admitted that they use their phone or another mobile device while driving. But the fear of a potential collision isn’t enough to make them stop using it. Only 9% of respondents claimed they used an app or another form of lockout technology to limit phone usage while they drive.
This is particularly worrisome as the number of old cars grows and safety features cannot hope to keep up with new technology. It’s thought that over 20 million cars on the road will be over 25 years old by 2021, putting countless people at risk without the proper maintenance.
Pair that with high-tech distractions and the number of accidents could rise drastically. This is particularly prevalent among Millennials who are most likely to use their phones while driving.
Though Apple is not being held responsible for the death of young Moriah, there’s an obvious shift that needs to occur regarding our in-car cell phone use.