Holding Apple to a Higher Standard – Solving Texting While Driving

by Brian S Hall   |   April 1st, 2013

I love my iPhone. I use it all the time. I take it with me everywhere. Yes, everywhere. I have tried and tested numerous smartphones over the years. I can confidently state that you can do no better than the iPhone. However, iPhone – Apple – can do better by us. Too many of us are texting while driving, and dying. More than nine people everyday, in fact. This has to stop.

Yes, it’s easy to claim that people’s foolish behavior is in no way Apple’s fault. Probably, you are right. I don’t care. I hold Apple to a higher standard. I don’t pay a “premium” to purchase Apple products. There is no “Apple tax.” I pay Apple’s higher prices because their products are the best: the best value, the easiest to use, the most intuitive, the most functional.

Apple even promotes this idea. Witness their latest marketing campaign for iPhone. No pretty women in leather jumpsuits, no ninjas, no lasers – no need. Instead, the powerful truth: iPhone is an amazing device, simple to use, and offers a nearly un-ending amount of fun and function for everyone – from anywhere, as their iPhone “Discovery” ad makes plain.

iPhone ad anywhere

iPhone doesn’t merely dominate the U.S. smartphone market, they dominate pretty much every relevant metric for smartphone use and engagement. Tragically, we remain engaged with our iPhones even while driving.

According to a recent AT&T study, nearly half of adult drivers in the U.S. admit to texting while driving. Over 40% of teens admit to texting while driving. Worse, the numbers are rising.

It’s not ignorance causing this. The texters-and-drivers are fully aware of the potentially deadly and devastating consequences of their actions. Doesn’t matter.They text anyway. No doubt they also tweet, check Facebook, choose a playlist and more, all while behind the wheel.

What’s Apple going to do about this?

Yes, I want Apple to do something. Because possibly only Apple can do something to fix this. Apple gave us the smartphone revolution. The iPhone changed everything. We now use the iPhone – and all the copycat smartphones – everywhere we go, no matter the setting, no matter who we are with. This recent IDC study, for example, noted that well over half of all Americans have a smartphone and a vast majority of us reach for our smartphones the moment we wake up and then never put it away. We use them in the movie theater, at the gym, while we are talking to other people in real life. Don’t believe that getting behind the wheel of a car suddenly changes everything, whether it should or not.

No, I do not care if it’s unfair to place any blame for our behavior on Apple. The fact is, we text while driving. We aren’t going to stop. Apple needs to accept some responsibility for what they have wrought. As much as I want a beautiful Apple Television, as much as you may want an iWatch, and as cool as this patented wraparound display iPhone is, none of that should be a priority for Apple until the company makes using the iPhone while driving a car much, much safer proposition. Or impossible. Either way, the problem needs to be fixed, soon.

Possible solutions? Honestly, I don’t know. Perhaps the iPhone will recognize when we are driving and simply stop working. Maybe Apple can require apps to mess up when we are in a moving vehicle – not autocorrect our texts, for example. Maybe Apple engineers can get Siri to work great, all the time, whether for texting, tweeting, checking our calendar, selecting a playlist. I don’t have the answers. That I leave to Apple. And we need the best they can give us.

Slogans, such as from AT&T’s  “It Can Wait” campaign are unlikely to work, I suspect.

it can wait texting

It Can Wait videos admittedly offer some truly heartbreaking stories of people whose lives have been irreparably and profoundly damaged because someone was texting while driving.

Tragic, sad – but how will this help? As AT&T’s own study says, 98% of those who text while driving already know it’s bad.

It was sobering to realize that texting while driving by adults is not only high, it’s really gone up in the last three years.

That quote is from Charlene Lake, AT&T’s senior vice president for public affairs. You think more marketing is the answer? No. Showing tragic stories may shock a few into proper behavior, I don’t doubt. Realistically, however, this is that rare case where we need a technical solution for a cultural problem.

According to TechCrunch:

The Center for Disease Control says that there are an average of nine people killed in texting-related accidents each day, with 1,060 injured in texting-related crashes.

Since texting occupies your eyes, hands, and mind, it’s considered one of the most dangerous distractions on the road, and elevates the risk of a crash to 23 times worse than driving while not distracted.

Nine people killed every single day. Read that again. Nine people die every single day from texting-related accidents. Going to stop what you’re doing now that you know?

I don’t believe you.

Apple gave us the iPhone. It was like nothing ever before. But Apple’s job is not complete. The iPhone is magical and revolutionary. We mortals have not yet learned to fully control its power. We need Apple’s help.

Images taken from Apple’s iPhone “Discover” commercial and AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign against texting and driving.

Brian S Hall

Brian S Hall writes about technology and greatness. His work has appeared in Techpinions, ReadWrite, Macworld, the Wall Street Journal, LinkedIn, and others. His latest novel is Love in the Time of Caller ID.
  • Rich

    While I’m driving I decide to suddenly throw my steering wheel hard to the right, and that action causes an accident. So I want the car manufacturer to “accept some responsibility for what they have wrought,” meaning accept some responsibility for the accident because they manufactured the car.

    Let’s not claim we are helpless and then ask God – oh, excuse me, Apple – to save us from ourselves, because *only* Apple can do that. If you want the company to run ads against texting while driving because they have a bigger voice than you have with a post on Tech.Pinions, no problem. I hope they will, as a public service. But they are in no way responsible for me deciding to suddenly throw my steering wheel to the right.

    • steve_wildstrom

      Where I disagree with you is that if there were a good technical solution waiting to be found, it would be a public service for Apple to find it. Unfortunately, I don’t believe it exists.

      The outgoing Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood proposed a while back a regulatory solution that would block cell phone transmissions from moving cars, a horrible case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater if I ever heard one. Fortunately, that idea seems to have died quickly.

    • jfutral

      “So I want the car manufacturer to ‘accept some responsibility for what they have wrought,’ meaning accept some responsibility for the accident because they manufactured the car.”

      Well, sort of, but not exactly. Automakers are expected to accept some responsibility for what they make. Cars are regulated for safety. And some are fined and sued for failing to be safe. But I don’t think Mr. Hall is suggesting that.

      I think of it more like, if there were some disease out there killing nine people a day, you better believe those who could would be working on a solution.

      Also, just because an issue is behaviourly preventable doesn’t mean a technological solution, particularly from those most capable, should not be pursued nor that we shouldn’t seek their help.

      I’d rather see Apple do something of their own accord maybe even stirred on by public discourse than regulated by the government.

      YMMV,
      Joe

      • http://www.brianshall.com/ Brian S Hall

        Thanks for the comment. This is what I am suggesting – I think we need a technical solution and Apple is best equipped for that.

        • pauldwaite

          “I think we need a technical solution and Apple is best equipped for that.”

          With respect, I don’t put much weight on your opinion that a technical solution is needed, because you don’t seem to have much insight into how technology works. Phones can’t figure out that we’re driving, just like cars can’t figure out that we’re drunk, and guns can’t figure out that they’re being pointed at school children.

          I understand the desire for Something To Be Done. I get holding Apple to a higher standard, and they should pursue anything that will reduce this harm. But it sounds like you’ve got very ambitious, vague and ill-informed ideas of what “technology” can achieve here.

          • http://www.yourmaclifeshow.com/ Shawn King

            “Phones can’t figure out that we’re driving…”

            No offense but bull. It is relatively easy to do. It might be expensive but it’s easy.

            For example – a phone could be use its GPS to disable itself unless the vehicle is stopped or plugged into a port reachable only on the passenger side.

            Inelegant, expensive and perhaps stupid but it could be done.

            So, before you say can’t, think about can.

          • pauldwaite

            Okay, I’ll bite.

            The vehicle: how does the phone know it’s in a vehicle?

            A port reachable only on the passenger side: how does the phone know how long its cable is?

          • brianashe

            Wow. Yeah. That will work, except 1) vehicles have more seats than just “the passenger side”, 2) what do you do about the hundreds of millions of phones and hundreds of millions of port-less vehicles out there? Other than that, yeah, solid idea. :-| “Relatively easy” — lol. You’re just demonstrating how LITTLE thought you’ve put into the idea. Things always seem easy until you think about them for more than 30 seconds.

          • steve_wildstrom

            If a technological solution depends on hardware in the car, you have to be prepared for a very long adoption cycle. Ignoring the time it would take just to get the whatever-it-is into the car, the average lifetime of a car in the U.S. is about 11 years. That means it will take more than 5 years from introduction to get something into 50% of cars.

  • benbajarin

    I’ve been thinking along similar lines as to how technology can solve this problem. Frankly it scares the crap out of me to think about my daughters driving some day with this going on. This is one of those things personally where its not my daughters I worry about doing this but other people who I feel will not be disciplined on this matter. In my small little town where I live we have had two fatalities because of texting while driving where someone ran a stop sign because they weren’t paying attention.

    I agree with what Rich said below about the degree that we should hold the manufacturer responsible, but at the same time this is a solution where I think technology can and hopefully will solve a very important problem.

    When you look at the stats that show that texting while driving is significantly more dangerous than drinking while driving, it opens our eyes to the magnitude of this issue.

    So yes I hope people can learn and develop new better habits but I also think technology needs to play a role in solving this as well.

    • http://www.yourmaclifeshow.com/ Shawn King

      “Frankly it scares the crap out of me to think about my daughters driving some day with this going on.”

      I’m a motorcyclist and it scares the crap out of me NOW. Because we (in theory) need to play closer attention to the vehicles around us, we see more than what the average car drives does. And it is truly appalling and terrifying to see all manner of things people are doing inside the “freedom” of their cars – texting, eating, reading, disciplining….I saw a women in Nashville CHANGING HER CLOTHES….Yes…top and bottom….

      It’s not just the iPhone causing the problem. Look at all the in-car apps and devices manufacturers are racing to install. Tesla has a WEB BROWSER in their dashboard – one that doesn’t even disable when the car is in motion.

      I’m all in favor of whatever draconian measures we need to put in place to prevent these kinds of actions and get people focused on JUST DRIVING THE CAR.

      • http://www.brianshall.com/ Brian S Hall

        I totally agree, Shawn. And I am a big believer that we are in charge of technology. However, I see so many people using their phones while driving, despite the overwhelming evidence, that I think in this case we need a technical solution. No one makes a more appealing, easy to use device than Apple. I want them to take a stand here.

        • http://www.yourmaclifeshow.com/ Shawn King

          “No one makes a more appealing, easy to use device than Apple. I want them to take a stand here.”

          Problem is, without agreement from all vendors, anything Apple tries to do would be used against them – “Closed vs Open”.

        • Rich

          Nothing wrong with asking Apple if they can find a technical solution to texting while driving. But believing that Apple has responsibility for the behavior falls into the same category as belief in the Easter bunny.

  • PeterVan

    I send messages all the time while I’m driving. I never text. The iPhone and Android can transcribe your voice for text messages and email. I use my iPhone to stay in communication with coworkers on my long commute. Here’s what it lacks: Siri should say to me, “You received a message. Would you like me to read it to you?” That simple solution would make it much safer. Now I pull off the road to read, but I respond verbally through Siri. I’m amazed at how well she understands my NY accent.

    • steve_wildstrom

      When you hear the incoming message alert, you can ask Siri to read your new messages. Pretty close to what you are asking for.

      • PeterVan

        That’s new to me. Thanks for the hint.

    • benbajarin

      Yes, I think the audio and voice parts of this are going to be a big part of the solution. The next step will be for these devices to have listening capabilities so we don’t have to use our hands to speak to them.

      • steve_wildstrom

        If the car has a built-in hands-free system, you just need enough integration so that pressing the “talk” button on the steering wheel tells the speech reco system to start listening.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/VHQMA5ZNKNRBNLRU6AW26P47PM Carlos

    Terrific article Brian. I totally agree with you. The statistics are shocking, we need to do something, we can not let people keep dying behind the wheel of their cars, and for that we need to engage Apple in the problem, to design an application or something that will prevent the iPhone work while driving or force that any text input be handled through Siri, or whatever, something that prevents people keep dying.

    No traffic campaign will avoid or change the behavior of people, but I think, like you, that Apple can do something about it. They have the knowledge, they have the human and material resources to help to force a change in the habits of the people to stop texting while driving, they (Apple) have some responsibility too. I love my iPhone, but I am fully aware that it is very easy to get distracted with a phone call, a text message, etc. I never answer the phone while I drive; as I can, I pull over to answer the call or text, but I know very few people do it as well. There must be something we can do to change this.

    • http://www.brianshall.com/ Brian S Hall

      Thanks for the comment. I realize I am holding Apple solely to a higher standard. But that’s what I expect from them.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/VHQMA5ZNKNRBNLRU6AW26P47PM Carlos

        Yeah, me too. I’m a graphic designer, I’ve worked with Apple products all my professional life since 1995 and I know they are the best. Apple is one of the few companies capable to make things happen, that’s why we turned around to see it, because we know that Apple will not be indifferent to this situation.

  • marcintosh

    I’ve thought just the opposite. The iPhone should disable texting while driving. Then again, I’m not much of a texter, so I don’t really identify with you folks who can’t just talk to people or put your phone down long enough to drive home.

  • Baggadonuts

    How is Google, Samsung, HTC, Microsoft or BlackBerry also not culpable for the texting while driving problem? Apparently they have a much larger share of the smartphone market worldwide. Seems disingenuous to call out Apple.

    • http://www.brianshall.com/ Brian S Hall

      Yes – and I felt uncertain about that. But I tried to build my case, not a general one: I am a loyal Apple customer because Apple makes better products. I hold them to a higher standard. As with issues like this, sometimes that can be a double-edged sword.

  • http://www.acid-product.co.uk Ian Davies

    This is an April Fool’s joke article, right?

    • http://www.brianshall.com/ Brian S Hall

      No. I am completely serious.

      • http://www.acid-product.co.uk Ian Davies

        Then, sorry, but you’re a doofus.

        Just for starters, the idea that the whole ‘texting while driving’ thing means “Apple needs to accept some responsibility for what they have wrought” is just hysterical entitlement. How old are you, 12?

        I can’t even begin to describe how non-sensical it is to presume that current technology can help with this.
        Quite frankly, it’s not technology’s job, and it certainly isn’t Apple’s. It’s about idiot people taking some responsibility for their actions and our lawmakers introducing some serious disincentives – like an instant 5 year ban for texting while driving. Maybe when it sinks in that people are losing their jobs because they are no longer allowed to drive due to their actions, we might get some results.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/VHQMA5ZNKNRBNLRU6AW26P47PM Carlos

          I agree with what you say, Ian, and I understand that we are talking about stupid people that causes tragedies like the one that has caused so much pain to Lois J. Gordon. But that stupid people has always a way out for their mistakes, they always blame to somebody else for their own mistakes, and lawyers help them so quickly.

          I do not think it’s Apple’s fault, or anyone else’s that stupid people we are talking about, but I do believe that a company of human and material quality like Apple is, can and should help to solve a problem that affects to anybody. I don’t wanna die because some kind of idiot was going texting while drive and hit me without even note it, that would not be fair to anyone. Technology must be a tool, not a gun.

  • http://twitter.com/kipb Kip Beatty

    Part of the “tech solution” problem is this; How can you disable texting while driving and not also prevent passengers from texting? While I’m driving, for example, my wife will text. If the phone senses it’s in a vehicle that is moving and thus disables texting, then it’s unnecessarily cut off for non drivers as well. How would it know if you were on a bus? Unless it’s a feature you turn on and off manually, then of course it would require the same discipline as simply not texting while driving.

    FWIW. I find Siri works well for me, along with my bluetooth headset, for sending and listening to texts.

  • brianashe

    This is an April Fool’s Day joke, right? What about the PASSENGERS in cars? Taxis? Buses? How on EARTH do you expect technology to know that I’m DRIVING a car and not just moving at a certain speed for some other reason? On the flip side, how does it know the difference between the following: in a car, not in a car, in a car and parked, in a car and stopped at a light, in a car stuck in traffic, in a car and just had an accident, just finished driving my car and am now riding in someone else’s, or vice-versa? Jeez. Double standards aside (you really hold Apple to a higher standard than “Don’t be evil” Google?) your idea has about a million non-trivial problems associated with it.

    • benbajarin

      So dive into those issues. I agree Google and MSFT should equally be responsible but Apple is an should be the leader.

      We appreciate solid dialogue here at our site and critiquing ideas is great but adding to them is even better.

      • brianashe

        Dive into the issues? How about “dive into the facts”?There is nothing to add to this. It’s a pipe dream. This would pretty much require 360 degree video and AI several generations beyond what we currently have. (Wait, what if I put tape over the lenses? What if they’re broken? What if I’m a defense contractor and have been issued a phone with no camera?)

        What if traffic is really slow and I’m walking on the sidewalk, keeping up with a car crawling down the street? What if someone else in the car is using my phone? What if I’m using someone else’s phone? What if I’m a passenger in an imported car with the steering wheel on the opposite side of what is customary in my country? What if I’m using iMessage on an iPod that’s connected to my iPhone in hotspot mode? A technical solution to “texting while driving” is so far from possible or practical it’s not even funny. And then what are you going to do — legislate its use? Draconian drunk driving penalties have lowered drunk driving accident rates but they have by no means eliminated them, and they kill several times more people than texting does, AND a lot fewer people drink and then drive versus texting and driving, so it’s safe to say that’s a few orders of magnitude more dangerous.
        You know what kills more people than texting while driving? FOLLOWING TOO CLOSELY. (And I bet most people killed while texting were probably doing that, too.) Work on fixing that instead. Oh, wait — we already are. “Texting while driving” will be made moot when we have self-driving cars in 50 years.
        Furthermore, the number itself — “9 deaths per day from texting”? Yeah, not quite. After a bit of googling, I see this http://content.usatoday.com/communities/driveon/post/2011/12/nhtsa-cell-phones-killed-3092-car-crashes-/1
        “The government says that 3,092 people died last year in “distraction-affected” crashes, [note: about 35k total traffic deaths that year] a newly refined measurement meant to tally the effect of texting, phoning or simply answering a call while driving… Distraction can include hands-free phone use, says the NHTSA.” So it’s not just texting. And yet… “Fatality rate on U.S. roads last year [2010] at all-time low”
        http://content.usatoday.com/communities/driveon/post/2011/12/fatality-rate-on-us-roads-last-year-at-all-time-low/1
        “Even as it decried the dangers of distracted driving today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had good news about overall U.S. traffic deaths: The final, revised traffic fatality count for last year was 32,885, the fewest highway deaths since 1949. That’s true even though Americans drove a lot more miles last year — an estimated 46 billion miles more and up 1.6% from 2009. And the combination of fewer deaths and more miles made the fatality rate in 2010 the lowest it’s ever been…” So maybe the gains made from better communication while driving (eg, being notified of bad road conditions) offset the losses caused by actually getting the messages? Airbags save lots of lives but they do kill some people every year, too. http://phys.org/news4363.html Some people die sooner from radiation treatments than they might have from cancer itself. etc etc etc. The world is not a perfect place. So yeah, everything could use improvement, and I would like to see less texting while driving, but that is NOT a problem that can be solved by technology, and PLEASE don’t lay it all at Apple’s feet

        • benbajarin

          Where is the border for draconian measures? Maybe we should never have put stop lights, or seat belts into cars? Since we should simply expect people to be able to be responsible for their own safety.

          I don’t think Brian is looking to place blame but rather present an opportunity for Apple to lead. Frankly I’m shocked that so many people on this thread are against technology being a part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

        • jfutral

          “I’m walking on the sidewalk”

          Yeah, those people should stop texting, too. I’ve been run into by or needed to avoid them far too many times.

          Joe

    • john

      So easy…the answer is the phone manufacturers work with the car makers or biometric device makers to disable the phone of any person sitting in the driver position using bluetooth (my mini cooper uses a weight indicator in the front seat and knows if I’m there driving). The first to market or patent this will be hailed a hero.

  • http://dssstrkl.com/ Paul Ward

    This is just a bunch of magical thinking. How is a phone supposed to know when I’m driving? How is any phone supposed to differentiate between a driver and a passenger? Or riding in a car versus a bus? I’d be pretty pissed if my phone decided to stop working because it thought I was driving, even though I ride a train to work.

    Texting while driving predated Apple by years, which itself was predated for decades by a whole laundry list of dumb shit people do in cars. Or, how’s this: Someone crashes into a schoolbus or a mall or whatever because they were to busy trying to figure out why their phone went into “safe driver mode” and then you just *know* the headlines will be “iPhone Kills Dozens!!”

    This is human nature: dumb drivers, dumb writers.

    • jfutral

      So, we should just accept nine people a day dying? After all. it is just dumb people doing dumb things. What can you do about that?

      No one said it would be easy. If it were easy, anyone could solve the problem. That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth discussing and maybe even finding a solution.

      So how do we solve both the issues the author brings up and the valid issues in your first paragraph? And I do not think conceding to the stupidity of people is an acceptable option. That’s just saying stupidity is smarter than us.

      Joe

      • http://dssstrkl.com/ Paul Ward

        Look at it this way, between 2005 and 2009, distracted drivers (note, that includes *all* distractions, not just texting) caused between 10-16% of all car accident-related deaths. Now let’s compare that to fatalities caused by drunk drivers and speeding, which each account for about 30%. That’s a lot considering the penalties for both speeding and drunk driving (ranging from expensive tickets, increased insurance premiums, driving school to losing your license, having your car impounded and jail time), yet that doesn’t stop anyone from speeding or drinking. (These stats can be found here: http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/cats/transportation/motor_vehicle_accidents_and_fatalities.html)

        People have been trying to legislate good and moral behavior for centuries and it never works. We can’t engineer good behavior for the same reason: its just magical thinking. Its not about saying that stupidity is smarter, its just human nature. No one thinks that anything bad will happen to *them*, right up until it does. Personally, I’m of the persuasion that the only way to solve the issue of bad drivers is to remove drivers from the equation altogether.

        • jfutral

          OK. Give up.

          Joe

        • John Cunningham

          Irresponsible thinking. Time to just do the hard thing. We don’t have a way yet to keep drunk people from driving, but we should have a way to keep people from texting. It’s time we stopped being crybabies. Driving is a privilege, not a right.

    • Chris

      Here’s a simple solution: First, an iPhone has GPS. So it can know that you are in driving car (BTW. just last week I actually spotted someone on a bicycle with a phone held to his ear. I don’t care, he wasn’t going to kill anyone but himself). How can it know that you are the driver? It has a camera with face recognition. We need to improve this to include “steering wheel recognition”. So if you are the passenger, you point your camera at the driver, making sure the steering wheel is in the picture, and texting is unlocked.

  • Lois J. Gordon

    Oh, there is a solution. If every person lived the life I have been forced to live since May 18, 2008, no one would be using any kind of electronic device behind the wheel (built into the dashboard or brought into the car). My only child was killed by a texting driver, but I also know of hundreds of people who are suffering horribly because someone thought a phone call was more important than driving. I never thought anyone would be so STUPID as to use an electronic device behind the wheel until my son was killed. Now I watch for STUPID people, and I see them everywhere I go. I’m scared to death to leave my driveway. If the fear of dying or killing an innocent person will not stop this obsession, then maybe a life sentence and huge fines will stop it. If the politicians won’t enact strict laws, I am afraid every person walking this earth will be living the life I have. Then the world would be doomed to sadness and hopelessness. Technology can help, but only if it is applied universally. Car companies and communication companies must work together, and that is not likely. People must be properly punished for killing others! It is our only hope!

    • http://www.brianshall.com/ Brian S Hall

      Sad

  • Southern98

    I think the first thing APPLE could do to address this issue would be to allow APP’s like AT&T’s free DriveMode app which is currently available on Blackberry & Android platforms. (Not blocked like on the iPhone) Apple is not allowing these “Texting while Driving” prevention apps on there platform which is stupid. To block an application that is for one simple use “Consumer’s Safety” really should be addressed first and foremost. When a device maker is not only doing nothing to protect it’s consumer’s, but blocking the work of third party app developers who are trying to save lives with the FREE applications is beyond me!

    • steve_wildstrom

      DriveMode appears to require system access at a lower level than is permitted on iOS devices. I don;t expect Apple to make an exception on this point (as apparently was done to let it run on the BlackBerry) but Apple gets to much with the system at any level they like and the certainly could offer a similar application. The problem would then be to get people to use it. AT&T, to its credit, is actually putting some effort behind a “don’t text and drive” campaign.

  • steve_wildstrom

    As far as I know, no court has ever held a cell phone maker liable for damages resulting from use of a phone while driving. There is a concept in tort law, though, called strict liability. Normally, the maker of a product is liable for damages only if it can be shown to have been negligent in some way. But products held to strict liability are considered to be so inherently dangerous that makers are responsible for damages even in the absence of negligence. A strict liability finding would certainly stand the mobile phone industry on its ear. Stranger things have happened.

  • Jim Stead

    Some “standard”, holding anyone but the responsible party, responsible.

  • john bulger

    Listen, Idont know but this comment seems as if staged for some reason Idont know what for.reality is on this topic, there is an app coming out-approx 10 days if apple approves it, which they did make a little more difficult than need be but for 20 dollars can download app- it actually does all things this mr right is speaking of-disables keyad at approx 10mph while driving a car, so if really committed, for really small amount of money, could really get piece of mind for self and family

  • john bulger

    Sorry Ishould have gave actual name of app Ihad described earlier.- itextguard is the name, google it, it explains the specifics of operation.believe not available for approx 10 days

  • john bulger

    Well, we do have to make some sacrifices, Ibelieve the app should disable period, as you stated, you as the passenger can text and want to, but for under 25 yrs of age, even number of passengers in car is huge distracted driver proble,but if needed this app Iam speaking of has push button, where person who authorized to do so, can give auth code and request block of time to not initialize app- itextguard

  • LTMP

    Siri isn’t all that bad at handling texts. You can tell it to read your new ones, and reply as well.

    The real fun happens when you read all of your replies later.

  • steve_wildstrom

    There is obviously a lot of room for debate on such issues as the responsibility of manufacturers and designers for the misuse of their products and the role of government in preventing injury. But what I find disturbing in a lot of the comments here is the notion that there’s no point to seeking a technological solution because it is impossible.

    Maybe it will turn out to be impossible–I have suggested that myself. But the tech industry was built by people who set out to do impossible things and sometimes succeeded against all odds. and what will kill innovation is if people stop doing things because they look too hard.

  • Steven Meister

    This is not meant to advertise my solution. Please understand I have the same frustrations and have had conversations with Apple and others. The app in the app stores are FREE at this time.

    Texting and Driving along with distracted driving in
    general is not only a worldwide epidemic and crisis, it is getting worse and
    not just teens but even more so with adults.

    There are supposedly many apps to curb this issue and
    protect us from distracted driving, though in reality, none of them really
    accomplish this in a full proof manner.

    Now there is a Safe Driving Application that not only
    does its best to block phone use yet allow emergency use, it eliminates the
    need to know who is the Drive or Passenger. It not only runs on Google/Android
    and Blackberry – It runs on iPhone!

    Since Google/Android and Apple iPhone Smart Phone
    operating systems do not allow an app to run in foreground unconditionally, all
    apps on the market can be easily shut down and off and deemed ineffective and
    simply useless. Meaning there is no way to know or monitor if the Driver/User
    of a safe driving application is really using that app, till it is too late and
    they have had an accident or received a ticket.

    SDA Safe Driving Associations, anti-texting, anti-mobile
    distraction app has added the Verification and Proof on the safe driving apps
    usage that is stored in a Cloud Database!

    This data is used for the driver/user to have a means to
    prove their proper usage of the safety app and also for the use of Parent,
    Employers and Insurance Actuaries/Risk departments to have verification of use
    or non-use of the safety app as well as statistical data on the usage based on demographics.

    This new and information is crucial for the safety of
    those using anti-texting apps and for those that feel or rely on these apps
    being foolproof to know they are of a voluntary nature and accept for SDA
    anti-texting app, none have the cloud database to be viewed and to verify the
    proper usage of the safety application.

    Nothing worse than a parent finding out too late that
    their teen was never using their anti-texing app, or an employer taking on
    millions of dollars of risk that they thought they had protected and Insurance
    companies thinking they too have mitigated their risk and exposure of civil
    liabilities of their policyholders.

    Again, the public should be aware of the facts of any and
    all claimed to be safety applications on the market, especially apps that are
    trying to protect lives from the hazards and deaths due to distracted driving,
    primarily texting and driving along with mobile use in general.

    I have the knowledge and experience for I have spent
    hundreds of thousands of dollars on anti-texting apps to find out this fact and
    spent additional funds to come up with a way to put the onus and responsibility
    on the Driver while delivering a means for us to verify that driver is
    complying with the laws and safety of non-distracted driving do to mobile phone
    or tablet usage.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004704275800 Facebook User

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    http://WWW.THECANARYPROJECT.COM

  • Pete Austin

    This is not a difficult problem. My BMW already (a) syncs my phone via Bluetooth and (b) knows when I’m the only person in the car, because it only warns that the passenger seat belt is not fastened if there’s a passenger. Also my phone has a satnav app, so it knows whether the car is moving. There is nothing special about any of this.

    So, in the most common case when there is only one person in the car, my phone and car are already connected and between them have all the information that they need to block texting while driving.

    Start with tackling this case, see whether it saves lives, and then progress to the multi-occupant cases

  • pawhite524

    Sorry I am so late to this party. I agree with the goal of this article but not the means. All stakeholders in mobile communications need to work together on this. The implication that one stakeholder, Apple do anything more than call a meeting to order that includes all mobile OS vendors, OEMs, carriers, software manufacturers, etc is to delay effective action and contribute to the deaths and damage now occurring.
    In the late 1940s and early 1950s individual car company’s made moves to make safer cars. Those efforts went no where until all manufacturers were involved including the builders of roads and other stakeholders.
    My wish is for action to be taken before the government has to step in with its “what’s the best hammer for killing flies?” approach.
    Best wishes to all.

    • http://www.brianshall.com/ Brian S Hall

      Yes – all stakeholders must acknowledge this and work on a actionable solution. Thanks for the comment.

  • pawhite524

    Now that the Facebook phone is in the marketplace I hypothesize the death and destruction rate to increase. I hope to the heavens above I am wrong.

    Having read all the posts in this thread I would have no trouble with phones being disabled in moving vehicles except for 9-1-1 calls. Drivers-Stop the car if you needs to talk, automatic loss of license for those who have a car accident driving in a parking lot while on a cellphone. It’s a freaking parking lot where you can park and talk!!

  • Mathur

    Ridiculous article. Siri solves this problem already.
    If the author thinks Siri doesn’t work he should say so. Instead he fails to even mention it.
    Maybe he doesn’t know about it?
    Dude just hold down the home button and talk.

    • steve_wildstrom

      I don’t think Siri by itself solves the problem, if people are holding their iPhones and watching the screen. This is a little better than texting by typing. But only a little. Siri with a good and integrated hands-free system goes quite a bit further, but only if people use it rather than texting manually.

    • http://www.brianshall.com/ Brian S Hall

      If Siri was a mere 51% reliable for my efforts in the car, this post would never have been written. Apple needs to get it to 99.9999%.

  • http://www.hopy.org.in/ hopy

    what a nice and great informative article i really like it.

  • John P

    Great article, just had a talk with my wife and two daughters about what if we were unable to text while riding or driving, did’nt go well but that’s what I’m for. That would be simple, no texting, updating your status, no tweeting. Think about it, all of these new life changing tech toys are ruining lives every day, we need time away from it anyway. Shut it down just like your cars GPS won’t work while in motion, it’s the only way.

  • Take me back to the 60′s

    I agree with you except that you seem to be unaware of what the most serious problem for Apple is: There are plenty of great apps for Android and Blackberry that give various options for shutting down texting while driving. But there are NONE for Iphone. Why? Because, the app developers will tell you that the Apple platform does not allow for programs to detect when texting is going on (I don’t understand the specifics, but this is the best I understand it). For some iphone users like me, I may have to switch from Iphone in order to use one of the many Android apps that are out there.

    • steve_wildstrom

      Apple would have to do the app itself. iOS security rules do not allow the sort of communications between apps that would allow a third-party app to do this.

      • Take me back to the 60′s

        I sure wish they would. There was one app that basically deactivated the phone while moving (Mobiloc?) But for some reason, that app is no longer at the App store. Hope something comes up eventually.

  • Joe

    I have a feeling you are thinking about this way too hard and making every excuse for the technology. However, let’s remember we already have to put our phones in airplane mode when flying why not when they sync with our cars via bluetooth they automatically go into “Car Mode” – emergency messages could notify you of an emergency allowing you to pull over and get the message/call. No matter how many people are in your car, it mainly applies to the driver’s phone – if a passenger wants to text or call for you so be it there is no inherent danger for passengers to not use their phones while in the car. I will be interested to see what some of you think about this.

  • http://kuehner.org/ Bob Kuehner

    One person below commented that this is “magical thinking”. To imagine that every day, I hold in my hand more computing power (iPhone) than was available to send a man to the moon seems pretty “magical”, too. C’mon, folks. If it can be done on the Android platform, do we really think the folks at Apple can’t figure it out? Jesse Ventura, I’m not… but something stinks about this!

  • smaktcat

    Why the heck can it not just send an “im driving” message? Sheesh. Remember busy signals? As long as the phone and the GPS are not disabled. I find theis infuriating.

    • steve_wildstrom

      This feature would have to be activated manually by the user. A phone is not smart enough to figure out on its own that it is in a moving vehicle AND that it is a car AND that the phone is the driver’s.

      • smaktcat

        I have No problem activating such a feature…as long as my Waze navigation thingy still worked.I am smart enough to do all those things in tho driveway or parking lot . I just do not know how to disable the texting without disabling the phone or gps.. ( ok, it could be user error, but..) um, and if you do know, please tell me after you quit laughin

  • http://www.OTTERapp.com/ ErikWood

    Brian – we agree. We have been after Apple since 2010 on this issue and recently started a petition on Change.org to try and make Apple aware from its own customers! Here is a link to the petition….its gaining momentum.

    http://www.change.org/petitions/apple-inc-introduce-the-first-text-and-drive-safety-app-to-iphone-customers?utm_source=guides&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=petition_created

    Thanks for writing about this.

    Erik Wood, Founder
    OTTER apps

  • John Cunningham

    Holding Apple to a higher standard is what this is all about. There are hands free devices for talking on the phone, but texting requires a higher level of concentration and distraction. Apple can do it. Technology has created this hazard, and technology should be responsible for correcting it. I am horrified to see people who are texting while driving. It is an addiction, but it is costly in terms of human lives. We need to be mature about this. Texting while driving shouldh’t be an option, and if that involves people who are passengers at this time, so be it. One person’s life is worth the inconvenience. You still have the phone. Common, people! Get brave about this thing. You can do it!

  • Curt

    Vehicles are deadly weapons. We have to be protected from idiots operating those deadly weapons. With many members of my family being pedestrians and cyclists, I believe vehicle and device manufacturers should be required to minimize technology distractions to help protect me from idiots.

    I practice defensive driving. However, defensive cycling or walking isn’t effective defense against distracted operators. Apple clearly needs a legislative incentive to add an API to enable do-not-disturb communications for a driver’s device. If we can require vehicle manufacturers to meet certain mpg requirements to save our environment then we should be able to pass legislation requiring handheld and automobile manufactures meet distraction free driving guidelines to save lives.

    Clearly there are current tools (cellcontrol, itextguard, key2safedriving, etc) that could solve this if there was an API in iOS.

    Ideally, I would like to see my ignition key identify me as the driver of the vehicle and use bluetooth communication with my [ios] device to activate a do-not-disturb profile which I configured to include auto text and phone response indicating that I am driving and any message will be checked when I stop driving.