Who Is Responsible For the Crash?

The addictive quality of cell phone usage while driving.

Posted Feb 10, 2017

Is Apple guilty? Arden Dier posted an article in the NEWSER on December 29, 2016, entitled “Parents Sue, Blame FaceTime for Death of Daughter.” The article describes the tragic death of a 5-year-old girl who died as a result of a car slamming into the back of the vehicle the girl was riding in. According to Dier’s report, the driver of the offending vehicle was a twenty-two year old whose FaceTime app was still active when police arrived at the crash scene.  He is now facing a manslaughter charge. The parents of the girl who died are suing Apple for failure to activate a FaceTime design that could have prevented it from operating while driving.

Another suit against Apple involving a phone distracted driver event was reported by Lia Eustachewich in a January 24, 2017, article entitled “Man rear-ended by distracted driver blames Apple for Crash.” The basis for the legal action is a claim that Apple could have instituted its lock-out technology which would have caused the phone to be disabled while driving. Eustachewich wrote the suit seeks to stop sales of iPhones in California that do not have the lock-out technology and update safety systems on current phones.

 Such distracted traffic crashes are indeed tragic. It is my position that most traffic crashes could be prevented by altering at-risk driver behaviors such as drinking and driving, cell phone use, speeding, among others known to cause crashes.  It is an interesting development to attempt to hold legally responsible the manufacturer of potential instrument of distraction such as the cell phone. If the technology exists to aide drivers in their decision making to avoid distracted driving behavior, I would hope that it would be utilized. Cell phone use while driving is indeed pervasive, and appears to have a highly addictive quality. Many people seem to not be able to resist using the phone while behind the wheel. While I believe we must take personal responsibility for behavior that puts others at risk, placing some responsibility on corporations that manufacture products that create at-risk situations might be necessary to create a societal shift in how we can be safer on the roads. Given the facts that in the United States each year there are over thirty thousand motor vehicle related fatalities, over 16,000,000 auto collisions and over 300,000 vehicle related injuries, it behooves us all to do whatever we can to turn the tide.