Accidents caused by distracted drivers who are busy texting, Snapping, taking selfies, searching for Pokémon Go, or scrolling through their Tinder accounts are sadly becoming more common. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s latest data reports that the percentage of highway fatalities increased more in 2015 than in any of the past 50 years. And the numbers are getting worse. In 2015, 3,477 people were killed in distracted driving accidents, many of them teens (15-19).
Based solely upon the number of cases our Florida personal injury law firm investigates weekly, distracted driver accidents are starting to look like a potential epidemic. I believe, however, that there is a simple and elegant solution. Unfortunately, none of those capable of implementing it seem particularly interested–for now.
Mobile email, texting and other forms of smartphone communication have one thing in common–a smartphone–and simple ways of preventing these types of applications from operating over certain vehicular speeds, in specific situations, already exist. For example, the technology already exists in IPhones, and Apple has a protocol it calls CoreMotion that allows programmers to measure an IPhone’s movement, with an “automotive” property that can predict whether an IPhone is being used in a moving vehicle.
Most cars today have the ability to host smartphones and to connect them to a vehicle’s entertainment and navigation system via bluetooth. This allows a user’s phone calls, texts, and music to be routed through the car’s dashboard–rather than potentially diverting the driver’s attention to a cellphone’s tiny screen. I believe these features can be “upgraded” to lock the homescreen once attached and in use; doing so would eliminate the temptation to glance at incoming texts, Instagram likes, or other notifications while driving. These proposed safety innovations are urgently needed as more and more cars are coming equipped with their own internet access and WiFi capability.
Alcohol and speeding are still by far the leading causes of traffic-related deaths in the United States; they also continue to prove far more challenging to eliminate. On the other hand, it seems that nearly all distracted driving accident cases could easily be eliminated with a simple modification to the phone’s app. Just like the “airplane mode,” smart phones should also should be fitted with an “auto mode” that would disable certain features automatically in moving vehicles, while allowing SOS calls, GPS, and map features.
SNAPCHATTING CAUSES FATAL CAR ACCIDENT
It is no longer just texting that poses a dangerous distraction to drivers. Snapchat, for example, allows users to actually measure, record, and share their speed at the time of Snapping pictures, recording videos, or sending messages. I believe this feature inadvertently encourages people to drive even faster when Snapping, so as to show others just how fast they are going.
Last year, a horrible car crash in Tampa killed five people. Evidence found afterwards showed that a Snapchat taken by one of the teen victims, a passenger in the accident, recorded her vehicle traveling at over 100 mph prior to impact. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the Snapchat video was allegedly discovered on the Snapchat story of 19-year-old Jolie Bartolome. Jolie was the passenger in a Volkswagen Golf driven by 22-year-old Pablo Cortes, III. Both were killed in the crash.
APPLE SUED FOR WRONGFUL DEATH OF FIVE YEAR OLD CAUSED BY DISTRACTED DRIVER ON FACETIME
FaceTime and Skype are other significant distractions posing dangers and risks to drivers and others who share the road. Recently, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed against Apple on behalf of a Moriah Modisette, a five-year-old girl who was killed by a driver who was arguably distracted while talking on Apple FaceTime. FaceTime, like Skype, provides free internet video calls and comes preloaded on all IPhones and IPads.
According to the Washington Post, the child was buckled into her booster seat in the back of her family’s Toyota Camry when they were rear-ended at full speed by a driver who was in the middle of a FaceTime video chat. The driver claimed to have never seen the Modisette family’s car until impact. When the driver’s IPhone 6 was recovered after the accident, his FaceTime app was still running.
Critics of the Moriah Modisette wrongful death lawsuit against Apple have likened it to suing Burger King for causing an accident that occurs when a driver loses control or is distracted when unwrapping a Whopper. Others have suggested that banning the use of FaceTime and other apps while driving constitutes a violation of some form of human rights.
Still others suggest that blocking calls, texts, and FaceTime in moving cars can serve to prevent abducted children from calling for help, or allowing authorities to trace their locations via a phone’s GPS features. However, as a Miami personal injury lawyer who focuses on car, motorcycle, and truck accidents, I cannot imagine a scenario where allowing a driver to FaceTime while driving could possibly be a safe thing to do.
Our Miami personal injury law office is located in Miami, Florida. Our Florida car accident lawyers, paralegals, and investigators takes cases across the state of Florida on behalf of those injured in traffic accidents. If you have been involved in a serious Miami car accident, you should contact us and speak with an experienced plaintiff’s personal injury attorney today. We offer free initial consultations by telephone, toll-free at 1-866-597-7429, email at [email protected], SKYPE, etc.
The sooner we are able investigate a claim, speak to witnesses, examine the vehicles, and ensure that you receive appropriate medical diagnosis and care, the more likely we are to be able to obtain fair monetary compensation for you for your pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses, and other damages. Call us today–we are ready to help.