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Apple Accused of Withholding 'Driver Mode' from Smartphones

Despite texting-while-driving bans and increased efforts to educate drivers, distracted driving remains a serious problem in the U.S.

In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has urged phone makers to help minimize driver distraction by including a "driver mode" in smartphones. The safety feature would prevent drivers from texting when the vehicle's transmission moves from "park" to "drive."

A lawsuit claims that Apple already has the technology to implement the feature, but instead the tech giant has chosen to place profits over safety.

According to the lawsuit, the technology needed to implement a "driver mode" in smartphones has been in Apple's possession since 2008, and the company obtained a patent for the tech in 2014. Apple has allegedly not implemented the "driver mode" because doing so might have a negative impact on the company's market share.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of a man who was injured when a distracted driver crashed into his vehicle while he was stopped at a traffic light. The suit seeks to force Apple to install the safety feature on all iPhones currently on the market.

How big is the problem?

Recent reports from the U.S. Transportation Department offer some perspective on the problem of distracted driving:

  • In the highest one-year increase since 1966, more than 35,000 people lost their lives on U.S. highways in 2016.
  • Last year 10 percent of traffic deaths involved at least one distracted driver.
  • That means the number of distraction-related fatalities rose 8.8 percent from a year earlier.

Additionally, the National Safety Council's injury and fatality report from 2014 shows that 26 percent of all car accidents in the U.S. were linked to cell phone use.

Accident victims deserve full and fair compensation.

Even if driver distraction is known to be the cause of a serious accident, victims may still face difficulties in obtaining compensation for medical bills, lost wages and other costs resulting from the crash.

To learn more about holding distracted drivers and insurance companies accountable, please see LaCross & Murphy's overview of car accidents and personal injury.

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