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Should cellphone providers be liable for distracted driving crashes?

If you had the power to save lives, would you use it? What if this power came with a price, if using this power could potentially result in lost revenue? This is the question many cellphone companies are being forced to answer as new technology is present that could keep drivers from using their cellphones while driving.

Who is asking this question? This question has been asked by many safety advocates. Most recently, a lawsuit based out of Texas is asking this question. A report by the New York Times delved into the issue, noting that cellphone providers like Apple, Verizon and AT&T have the capabilities to put distracted driving to an end. Unfortunately, they have yet to implement it.

The president of the National Transportation Safety Board is quoted in the Times piece, calling for the wireless industry to push companies to implement this technology, but companies push back saying the technology is too unreliable.

She counters that "technology got us into this situation. Technology will get us out."

Is the technology that would stop distracted driving reliable? The lawsuit noted above brings the contentions made by cellphone companies into question.

Lawyers who filed suit to hold cellphone companies accountable for distracted driving accidents are pointing to a patent filing made by Apple back in 2008 and granted in 2014. This filing focuses on technology that would shut down certain phone capabilities when the phone is found in motion and in use by a driver. The patent filing by Apple states that approval of the patent for this form of technology is important because law enforcement is unable to stop the practice of texting while driving.

Will this technology become a reality? Although the future of technology that is implemented on a provider-wide basis is not yet known, other devices and apps are currently available that serve a similar function.

Devices are available that mount on the windshield of the vehicle and lock out prohibited services on the driver's phone. The device works by using high-frequency sound waves to locate the driver's phone and is touted as having the ability to target this phone only, leaving passenger phones unaffected.

What should victims of distracted driving accidents learn from this case? Although it is unclear if the current suit against Apple will be successful, it does bring attention to the problem. Victims of distracted driving can take this case as an example of the many parties that can be held responsible in a car accident.

As such, those who are injured are wise to seek the counsel of an experienced car accident attorney. This legal professional will review your case and work to better ensure your legal rights and any potential remedies are protected.

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