Distracted driving is a major safety issue on roadways, and states have taken a variety of approaches to address the problem. These include not only regulating, if not banning, the use of cell phones while driving, increasing enforcement of highway safety laws, and increasing public awareness of the problem.
Liability for distracted driving, of course, lies primarily with each driver. Everybody is responsible for exercising reasonable caution at all times behind the wheel and for following all traffic safety regulations and distracted driving laws. This doesn’t mean, though, that there isn’t pressure on others to address the problem.
Late last year, for instance, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration issued new guidelines in which manufacturers were urged to implement technology which blocks motorists from using some types of apps while driving. The guidelines are voluntary, but it isn’t hard to imagine that in the not too distant future an app-blocking feature could be mandatory.
Another area where pressure to address distracted driving is being felt is in the courts. Apple, for instance, is facing litigation over whether it had the legal duty to include features on their phones which prevent drivers from being distracted. Some legal experts are skeptical that Apple could be held liable under product liability law since that could open up the possibility of legal liability for other types of parties who cause distracted driving. It remains to be seen how these cases will play out.
Another type of case that has been brought is litigation against app developers. Although similar issues could arise in these cases as in cases against phone manufacturers, at least one recent case suggests that distracted driving cases involving app developers are not quite the same.
In our next post, we’ll take a further look at this topic, as well as the importance of working with an experienced personal injury attorney to seek just compensation following a distracted driving accident.
The New York Times, “Auto Safety Regulators Seek a Driver Mode to Block Apps,” Neal E. Boudette, Nov. 22, 2016.
Time.com, “Can Apple Be Held Liable for Texting-While-Driving Crashes?,” Alex Fitzpatrick, Sep. 27, 2016.