Several apps might present many benefits to drivers. When using hands-free voice control, a driver or passenger could engage a GPS, weather, or another helpful program. Helpful or not, using an app brings with it risks for distraction. Distracted driving could lead to a fatal accident on Michigan roads. Some apps come with little more than entertainment value alongside potential dangers, and app developers may find themselves liable for car crashes caused by people using their programs.
A court decision arrives
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit overturned an initial court ruling that dismissed a case against Snap, Inc., the company behind Snapchat. The ruling centered on a fatal car crash involving the driver’s use of the app’s “speed filter.” The speed filter clocks how fast a car travels and broadcasts the travels on social media.
Three people lost their lives when the vehicle crashed after hitting speeds of 123 miles per hour. The appeals court viewed the app’s design itself as contributing to the driver and passengers’ behavior.
Such a decision may lead to other app developers choosing to avoid creating programs that might contribute to dangerous behavior. Eliminating “risk-taking apps” won’t likely happen, though. Scores of independent developers could rush apps to the market without thinking about the dangers. Lawsuits could follow if anyone suffers harm.
Negligence and contributing to it
Any person or entity that contributes to car accidents may end up a named defendant. If a manufacturer puts out a vehicle with known safety defects, the manufacturer could be partially liable, even when the driver acted negligently.