The government wants smartphone manufacturers to do their part to combat distracted driving. According to a news report in The Press Enterprise, authorities are asking companies such as Samsung and Apple to equip cell phones with the ability to lock out most apps whenever someone is behind the wheel. The voluntary guidelines are designed to reduce auto accidents caused by drivers who are distracted by their phones. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also wants automakers to make infotainment systems easy to pair with smartphones.
Disabling Apps While Driving
When smartphone companies block apps, drivers can still make calls. But, the phones and automaker systems would lock out the ability to enter text. In addition, Internet browsing, video, text from books and photos would be locked out. Navigation systems would be permitted, but only with guidelines regarding how to avoid driver distraction. Automakers are already moving in this direction with many offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto that pair smartphones to car touch screens that allow only limited use of phone apps.
NHTSA wants phone makers to develop technology that can determine if someone is driving a car and then disable most of the apps. Currently, this technology doesn’t exist. NHTSA wants phones to have a “driver mode” that would be used by the smartphone user in the absence of such technology that can disable apps. NHTSA will take public comment for 60 days before deciding whether to put these guidelines in place.
The Danger of Distracted Driving
The perils of distracted driving are real in California. According to the California Highway Patrol, there were 84 traffic deaths in 2013 involving some type of driver distraction and at least 14 of those fatalities involved a cell phone related driver distraction. Nationwide, there has been an increase in fatal crashes caused by distracted driving. Government statistics show that about 10 percent of the fatal crashes last year involving distracted drivers. That number is up 8.8 percent from 2014.
There is no question that distracted driving is negligent driving. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car crash caused by a distracted driver, it is important to understand that you have legal rights and options. Injured victims of distracted drivers can seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, rehabilitation, pain and suffering and emotional distress. Injured victims would also be well advised to contact an experienced California car accident lawyer who will remain on their side, fight for their rights and ensure that the at-fault drivers are held accountable.