Category Archives: Texting and Driving

Cell Phone Manufacturers Walk a Fine Line between Social and Personal Responsibility – Car accident lawyers

 Cell Phone Manufacturers Walk a Fine Line between Social and Personal Responsibility – Car Accident Lawyers Ward & Ward Law Firm

Pressure is being put on cell phone manufacturers to include “lock-out” technology in their mobile devices to prevent drivers from accessing certain features while driving. Who bears the responsibility for car accident injuries and fatalities caused by distracted drivers? What are the options parents can employ to keep their children safe when driving?

 The product liability case against Apple – a result of a catastrophic car accident

Several years ago, on a summer day in East Texas, 21 year old Ashley Kubiak caused a catastrophic car accident while driving her pickup and checking for messages on her iPhone. The collision left a boy of seven who loved playing team baseball, a paraplegic. The young boy, Sammy Lane Meador, was told by physicians he would never walk again as his spine had snapped in the collision. His grandmother and great aunt perished in the accident. The families of the accident victims joined together to bring a product liability case against Apple, entitled Meador, et al vs. Apple, Inc.

Discovery revealed…

Personal injury lawyers, Don and Charlie WardDuring the discovery process it was revealed that in 2008 Apple had petitioned for and later received a technology patent called “Driver Handheld Computing Device Lock-Out.” In the documentation submitted to the patent office, a description of the technology read, “a lock-out mechanism to prevent operation of one or more functions of handheld computing devices by drivers when operating vehicles.”

The plaintiffs argue that while Apple was fully aware their phones would be used for text messaging while driving, and even used this reasoning in their patent application, Apple did nothing to prevent Ms. Kubiak, an iPhone consumer, from illegally texting behind the wheel. Plaintiffs’ attorneys argue Apple has a moral obligation to society to employ the patented technology in their cell phones. Plaintiffs’ attorney, Greg Love, states “When companies are faced with the choice of doing the right thing or doing the cheaper thing, they tend to do the cheaper thing until they’re forced to do the right thing.”

In 2014, Apple received the patent which uses sensors to determine if the phone is moving and in use by a driver, and employs the lock-out features for such functions as sending and receiving texts, email, social media posts and notifications. However, since 2014 (the year Apple was granted the patent), the company has distributed the iPhone 5s, 5c, 6, 6+, 7, 7+ and a number of IOS software updates. Yet, the technology has never been deployed. Nor has any other cell phone manufacturer incorporated the technology into their phones.

Car accident lawyers are disturbed by this survey

Distracted driving includes any behavior that takes your attention away from the operation of the vehicle. In 2015, Erie Insurance conducted an online survey consisting of 2,019 respondents 18 years and older. Their motive? To learn the kind of distracted behaviors their clients had engaged while driving their vehicle. You won’t believe what respondents admitted to:

  • Styling hair (15%)
  • Romantic interlude (15%)
  • Changing clothes (9%)
  • Changing drivers (3%)
  • Taking selfies (4%)
  • Flossing / brushing teeth (4%)
  • Going to the bathroom (3%)
  • Texting while driving (30%)

Disturbing statistics, all! But note that nearly 1/3 of adults taking this survey admitted to texting while driving. This is especially alarming because text messaging behind the wheel diverts four primary modalities necessary for a focused driving experience:

  • Vision
  • Auditory
  • Cognitive thinking, reasoning skills
  • Manual/tactile cell phone use

In 2014, three thousand one hundred seventy nine teen  fatalities in the U.S. were caused by drivers who momentarily diverted their attention from the safe operation of their motor vehicle; 3,179 needless fatalities – 6,358 grieving parents, in addition to siblings, grandparents and other grievous kin.

Texting fatalities have surpassed fatalities caused by alcohol

Between 2011, when no state bans existed for texting, and 2013, after 14 states passed legislation banning texting while driving, texting rates declined from 43% to 30%. Today, 46 continental states have banned text messaging for all drivers. But in reviewing data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey, approximately 1 in 3 teens readily admits to texting behind the wheel. And while fatalities resulting from drunk driving have decreased, teen deaths attributed to texting while driving have surpassed teen fatalities caused by drinking and driving.

Did you know?

  • On average, the amount of time eyes are off the road when texting is 5 seconds
  • The distance covered in 5 seconds at 55 mph is the length of a football field

One in three teens admits to texting and driving

Understanding the myths that fuel texting and driving

Myth No. 1 – The fear of missing out (FOMO)

In 2016, FOMO, an acronym for “the fear of missing out,” was ushered into the Merriam-Webster dictionary along with other words and acronyms implying social disconnect such as nomophobia (fear of being without a cell phone) and ICYMI (in case you missed it.) FOMO demonstrates an anxiety of epidemic proportions that keeps smart phone users continuously checking their phone for messages, news, announcements, tweets or feeds. The underlying principle of FOMO hints that the current moment in time is never good enough and can always be improved by hooking up with friends, making an announcement on Twitter, posting a response to Facebook, uploading a photo of your present activity, announcing your location or commenting on developments. The fear of missing out is a compulsive and addictive behavioral response.

In an interview with media, Jack Walker, attorney for the plaintiffs in the above-mentioned case, echoed scientific findings when he stated a person’s response to a cell phone notification is a “neurobiological response from the brain, it basically triggers the pleasure centers of the brain with a shot of dopamine… people do it so frequently, they don’t even realize it’s happening.”

Myth No. 2 – Multi-tasking

How many times have you heard someone say, I’m multi-tasking? This meme endorses the lie that self-esteem and social worthiness are awarded to those who can split tasks and perform double the work in half the time. In fact, multi-tasking is the antagonist of deep intellectual thinking. The belief that we can focus our attention on multiple, simultaneous tasks, each involving conscious control — is fiction. Our brains are not wired to focus intently on multiple concurrent thoughts. What we typically call multi-tasking actually involves a cerebral interruption and restart between tasks. Best selling author, Dr. John Medina, a developmental molecular biologist and research consultant states “The brain naturally focuses on concepts sequentially, one at a time.”

From an article published in The Scientific American: “Some commonplace activities, such as driving and talking on a cell phone frequently go hand-in-hand, but the brain is likely switching its main focus quickly between the two activities, perhaps a reason the pairing has been so dangerous.”

Personal responsibility v social responsibility – The motion to dismiss the product liability lawsuit

In 2015, Apple filed a motion to dismiss the product liability claim. Defendant Apple stated in court documents that it was not the iPhone that caused the accident but the lack of personal responsibility shown by Ms. Kubiak. Apple further claims, eating while driving would encourage future product liability suits against fast food manufacturers as a result of plaintiffs’ argument. The Federal judge assigned to the case signed a recommendation to dismiss the case. The recommendation states in part: “…Apple’s failure to configure the iPhone to automatically disable did nothing more than create the condition that made Plaintiffs’ injuries possible.” Nevertheless, the case is still pending in United States District Court.

At this time, there isn’t a cell phone manufacturer or mobile service provider that wants to market the first mobile phone that clamps down on distracted driving behaviors. Similar to change through legislation, modifications in the free market are slowly evolving and will require pressure from consumers, special interest groups and the success of product liability lawsuits brought against cell phone manufacturers going forward.

Apps for restoring peace of mind

Following is a short list of Apps that may help curb the temptation to initiate, read and respond to text messages and social network posts and notifications. They are in no particular order; what works for one family, may not be effective for another. Browse through the apps to determine what works best to protect you and your family or try them all until you find the app that suits your lifestyle. Most apps are available for download at Google Play for Android devices or the App store for iPhones. I have noted when the applications are downloadable from the developer’s website.

AT&T DriveMode (Free)
Available for IPhone and Android devices. Full features are available to AT&T Mobile customers; limited features for all other users.

  • Turns on when the vehicle is moving
  • Access music and navigation with one touch
  • Silences text message alerts
  • Automatically replies to text messages

Parents are alerted if:

  • AT&T DriveMode is turned off
  • Auto-Mode is disabled
  • New speed-dial number is added

Life Saver – Distracted Driving (Free)
Available for IPhone and Android devices. Optional rewards based technology. Sponsor sets guidelines and monitors behavior. App is endorsed by a number of safe driving organizations.

  • Blocks phone use while driving
  • gets driver’s last known location
  • Safe arrival notifications
  • Can share with others
Video – How Life Saver works
Video – Life Saver screen – is it user friendly?

True Motion Family (Formerly The Canary Project – Free)
Available for IPhone and Android. Score based, includes location sharing and roadside assistance.

Wonder (Available at developer website)
The message center displays either a “driving” or “safe to text” icon next to each person’s name.

Drive Beehive (Free)
Available for IPhone and Android devices. Rewards safe driving miles; requires a sponsor.

Experienced car accident lawyers and wrongful death attorneys

Our experienced car accident lawyers and wrongful death attorneys use their knowledge of the law, legislation and judicial opinions to employ strategies that maximize our clients’ financial recovery after they have experienced a life-altering accident or event caused by another person or entity. If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident, injured by the negligence of a medical professional, or the victim of nursing home neglect or wrongful death, call personal injury attorney, Charlie Ward, today at (317) 639-9501 for a free consultation.

Charlie Ward
Personal Injury Attorney
728 S Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46225
(317) 639-9501
cpw@wardlawfirm.com

Auto Accident Lawyer in Indianapolis | Texting While Driving

Young businessman on the phone
Personal injury attorneys see rise in accidents caused by distracted drivers | The auto accident lawyer

In 2012, approximately 420,000 people were injured and 3,300 killed as a result of distracted drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), that was about 10% higher than the year before.Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501

Texting while driving is becoming the most common cause of distracted driving and these numbers will continue to rise. Although to date, 44 states have banned texting while driving, resulting accidents have not diminished.  A Pew Research study shows that younger women are more likely to be involved in an accident because of texting while driving:

“In a study comparing boys texting behaviors to girls, Pew Research found, on average, girls typically send and receive 80 texts a day while boys send and receive 30.”

And these numbers are not on the decline.

A few states (Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas) have banned inexperienced drivers from texting. In January, 2017, a senate committee in Arizona proposed a 6-month ban on the use of communication electronic devices for teen licensees.  As reported by The Arizona Republic: “The bill calls for a $75 fine and a 30-day extension of the six-month limit on a teen’s graduated driver’s license for the first offense.”  There are no such restrictions in Montana.

It is estimated that 660,000 drivers use their cell phones and/or manipulate electronic devices at any given daylight moment while driving according to the NHTSA. Distracted drivers in many instances run red lights, cross center lines in the roadway and rear end vehicles in front of them. Young drivers do NOT understand the concept of time and distance.  It only takes a few seconds – eyes off the road –  and it is too late to avoid an accident.

Early education may reduce auto accidents, injuries and deaths

Teaching young and inexperienced drivers about the dangers of texting while driving will minimize accidents and prevent serious injuries as well as loss of lives.  Placing the cell phone out of reach or turning off the cell phone while driving is recommended.  In addition, passengers should be made aware of the dangers and try to prevent texting while driving by assisting the driver with any necessary cell phone use.  If you are a passenger, remind the driver not to reach for the cell phone – it can wait until later.

Experienced personal injury attorneys and auto accident lawyer litigate distracted driver cases

It is apparent after some accidents that the cause of the crash was a driver distracted by a cell phone and possibly texting while driving. Officers may include this information in their police report as the official cause of the collision. But if it has not been determined at the scene of the accident, a good private investigator employed by your attorney may be able to uncover this information on your behalf. Further, your experienced personal injury lawyer  might reveal this relevant fact during the discovery process when cell phone records may be obtained. In addition, witnesses to the accident may be of help in their eye-witness testimony.

If there is reason to believe the defendant driver was distracted by their cell phone and possibly texting, a lawyer experienced in personal injury cases will use every resource to investigate. Indiana has a law that bans texting while driving and the personal injury attorneys at Ward & Ward Law Firm  will leverage the law on your behalf.

Call Charlie Ward today at 317-639-9501 if you or someone you know was injured or killed in a collision caused by a texting driver.

By Charlie Ward

Ward & Ward Law Firm
728 S Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46225
317-639-9501

Avoiding a Bus Stop Tragedy | Indianapolis Personal Injury Lawyer

Every year hundreds of children in the United States are severally injured or killed as a result of motorists failing to stop for a school bus when the stop arm is extended and red lights flashing | Bus Accident Lawyers

School bus stop signIt is estimated by The American School Bus Council that approximately 500,000 buses provide transportation for children each school year.  In total, 23 million children ride a school bus to and from school every day. Most children are struck in an area around the bus which is known as “the danger zone.” The danger zone is the area around the school bus which is approximately 15 feet from all sides of the school bus.

Motorists need to know what to do when the bus is making preparations to stop and pick up or drop off a child.

When the yellow flashing light comes on it is a warning to all drivers that the bus is preparing to stop. The bus driver will then pull out the stop arms and the flashing lights will turn red.

What is the law?

State laws requires all motorists to stop for school buses when picking up and dropping off children.   Vehicles in all lanes of travel must stop unless the roadway is divided by a physical barrier or unimproved median.  Generally on a divided roadway, only automobiles traveling in the same direction as the school bus must stop.

Many time drivers are unaware of the law when it comes to stopping for a school bus.  In addition, driver inattention is likely to be a factor for failing to stop.  Cell phones, texting, distractions within the vehicle and ‘zoning out’  are all factors that contribute to the driver’s inattention putting precious children in danger. In Indiana alone the Department of Education reports that in 2014 around 500,000 vehicles ignored stop arms.

What can be done to minimize or eliminate injuries to children?

North Carolina initiated a test program with the installation and use of stop arm camera systems  to catch drivers who fail to stop as required. This program could go nationwide.  In addition, additional warning lights, such as strobe lights could be added to the red lights to get the attention of distracted drivers.

Educating children on school bus safety for entering the zone of danger

Statistically, children ages 5-7 are the most vulnerable to be severally injured or killed because they are the most inexperienced and may impulsively run when entering or exiting a school bus. Before your young child begins taking the school bus, take the time to discuss safety protocol at the school bus stop and upon entering and exiting the bus.

Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501Experienced Bus Accident Lawyers

In the end, drivers must always be aware of school buses and anticipate that a child will enter the roadway. If you or someone you know has been injured or had a child injured because of a negligent driver, give me a call at 317-639-9501. Our firm attorneys are here to help you at any time.

By Charlie Ward

Ward & Ward Law Firm
728 S Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46225
317-639-9501
 

Accidents at the bus stop may occur when a driver fails to obey the school bus red “stop arm” warning signal”

Distracted Driving | Personal Injury Attorneys in Indianapolis

Indianapolis Personal Injury Attorney - Texting DriverWhat are the 3 largest causes of vehicular fatalities ?

According to the National Safety Council, a new report shows that leading causes of death from a vehicle are:

  • Alcohol 30.8%
  • Speeding 30% and
  • Distracted driving 26%

Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501The new and surprising category that is catching the most attention is the distracted driving statistics–especially in teenage drivers. This category is on-the-rise at an alarming rate.  Advancement in technology, i.e., mobile phone use (texting), is the primary cause for this generational phenomenon.  According to the recent survey, 80% of the public incorrectly believes that hands-free devices are safer than a handheld phone.

Surprising accident-related fatality statistic

The #1 cause of death in teenagers is from an auto-car accident. Much of the blame can be placed on driving inexperience.  Statistics show that graduated driver’s license systems across the country reduce crashes involving teenagers by 40%.  But the question remains how to minimize the potential risks of an accident?  Clearly one way is to limit passenger distraction and the use of a cell phone and texting-messaging.Teenagers need to understand that accidents happen very quickly and the time-distance factor is not in their favor.

It is critically important for all teenage drivers to understand the dangers of the road and potential hazards that exist.  One way to educate our teens to the hazards and risks is to take a defensive driving course.   Education is the answer.   Finally, getting teenagers in a buckling-up routine upon entering a vehicle is critical. This should begin at a very early age. Seat belts save lives–it is just that plain and simple.

By Charlie Ward

cpw@wardlawfirm.com

Ward & Ward Law Firm
728 S Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46225
317-639-9501

Addiction to Texting in Indianapolis & Indiana

Texting and driving accidents- Personal Injury Lawyer

Texting has become the preferred method of telecommunication by teens

The i-generation is the first generation of young people to grow up with mobile communication and media technologies. Members of the ‘i-gens’ are very connected through text messaging and telephone communiqué. Seventy-five percent of teens own cell phones and a third of those text more than 100 times a day. Eleven percent say they send over 200 messages every day. A study conducted in 2012 comparing boys texting behaviors to girls, Pew Research found, on average, girls typically send and receive 100 texts a day while boys send and receive 50. Is text messaging becoming an addiction?Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501

Many teens feel pressured by their peers to be available 24/7

Psychologists believe that cell phones are an addiction for many young people. Four out of five teens sleep with their smart phones. Some use their smart phones as an alarm. But because text messaging is central to the way teens communicate with their peers, there is a good deal of peer pressure to be ‘available’ at all times. Studies show that a number of teens keep their smart phones bedside so as not to offend a ‘friend’ who may text them during the night.

The US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has posted the following youtube video of a young woman, a high-school honor roll student, who states how important her phone was to her; that she felt alone and lonely without it. She was severely injured and suffered facial disfigurement and loss of senses including eyesight, taste and smell when she momentarily took her eyes from the road to read an incoming text.

Courts hold “texters” partially responsible for accidents caused by texting

The National Safety Council (NSC)  researchers observing more than 1,700 drivers found that three out of every four drivers using a cell phone committed a traffic violation.  Drivers are four times more likely to crash when talking on the cell phone; while phone texting, drivers are 23 times more likely to collide with an object, person or vehicle. And drivers are less likely to remember what they’ve seen when talking on a hands free device.

States now recognize that due to constitutional privacy issues, initial efforts at putting texting and driving legislation on the books have lacked the teeth necessary to enforce the laws. Consequently, states are looking for more effective legislation and courts are handing down rulings that hold people accountable for their knowledge and errors in judgment where text messaging is concerned.

In New Jersey, the Court of Appeals has ruled that a texter “has a duty not to text someone who is driving” if the sender knows the person “will view the text while driving.” What does this mean? If a texter has knowledge or a reason to believe that the person being texted may be behind-the-wheel and may view the text while driving, the texter could bear some financial liability if an accident occurs.

Parents should be proactive with their children

As parents, we know that when our children receive their driver’s permit and license, drive-time instruction is not enough to compensate for real-world experience. We hope and we pray that our children learn defensive driving skills without traffic incident or injury. If your ‘i-gen’ teen seems to need his or her smart phone with them at all times, be very proactive in instructing your child about the dangers that come with the use of cellphones while driving.

Give a cellphone challenge to your child. Ask them to refrain from using their cell phone for an evening, then a day and maybe even two. Set your son or daughter up for success by not asking too much, too soon. Their ability to exercise self-control over their cell phone use will be a confidence booster.

When they use the vehicle, ask them to leave their cell phone at home and suggest they act as the ‘designated driver’ when with friends.  Chances are their friends will have a phone with them should an emergency arise. Parents, if you need to text or phone your teen, get in the habit of calling one of their friends who you know is present in the car your teen is driving. Discuss this strategy with other parents and work towards a consensus to employ these techniques. Teach your teens how to prioritize while you still have them under your control. The lessons you teach them now, will stay with them for a lifetime.

Read more about distracted driving and discover apps that parents and newly licensed teens can use to educate and build trust.

Attorney Charlie Ward is a plaintiff’s attorney and represents those who have been injured by another person’s negligence. If you believe that you were injured by a distracted driver, call Charlie at 317-639-9501 or 888-639-9501 for a consultation and evaluation of your claim. Ward & Ward Law Firm is open 24 hours a day.

Personal Injury Attorney,

Charlie Ward

cpw@wardlawfirm.com

Ward & Ward Law Firm
728 S Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46225
317-639-9501

 

Published 11/05/2014

Teenage driving safety and accident prevention | Indiana auto accidents

Educating teenage drivers on the dangers of the roadway and getting hands on lessons in driver safety.Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501

The Street Survival Foundation and Hoosier BMW came together to educate teenage drivers on the dangers associated with driving vehicles on the roadway and learn how to drive in the rain as well as what to do what a vehicle suddenly breaks.

Education is the key to accident prevention. Please take a moment to watch this powerful video and share with your friends and family.

Everything you can do now to educate your teenager will help them as they grow older.

A Single Text Changes Lives Forever | Car Accident Lawyer in Indiana

A single bad decision can change your life and the life of others – forever!Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501

One Text… One simple distraction has the power to cut a long, full life ….. Short. Everyday our lives are filled with distractions! It’s up to each of us to set boundaries, that keep both the roads and our futures safe. Too much life to live, to risk cutting it short from a preventable mistake. #stopthetextsstopthewrecks #wardlawfirm

Project Yellow Light – STOPTHETEXTSTOPTHEWRECKS.ORG

Friends, here is a great example of using our voice to make a difference!Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501

Introducing, Brittnay Devasure 2013 Project Yellow Light winner:). Great Video, Great Message …. 2 pts and a yellow star for creativity and effort!

Where does Indiana stand on red-light texting, emailing and reading from telecommunications devices? – Your car, motorcycle, bicycle, trucking accident and injury lawyer advocating for you!

Distracted driving while waiting at stop lights

So much has been written about the risks of distracted driving and the numbers of accidents caused by typing, sending and reading on electronic devices. Indiana Legislators have addressed texting, emailing and reading while driving in Indiana Code 9-21-8-59. The language used in the statute makes clear that texting, emailing and reading of the same applies to a “moving vehicle” only. It reads in part as follows:

     Sec. 59. (a) A person may not use a telecommunications device to:
(1) type a text message or an electronic mail message;
(2) transmit a text message or an electronic mail message; or
(3) read a text message or an electronic mail message;
while operating a moving motor vehicle unless the device is used in conjunction with hands free or voice operated technology, or unless the device is used to call 911 to report a bona fide emergency.

Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501By omission in statute, it is clearly legal at this time to text, send or read an email or text from a telecommunications device if you are not operating a “moving motor vehicle”, the keyword here being “moving.”

*Not from Indiana? Find out where your State stands on distracted driving.

In an article written by David MacAnally and published at wthr.com, Dr. Fred Mannering, a traffic expert at Purdue University, believes that “red light texters may be sparking problems, including road rage.” When a red light texter delays or entirely misses a green light, drivers in cars backed up in the queue can become explosive…enraged. Mr. Mannering goes on to say that a gap in traffic that is greater than 2 ½ to 3 seconds will cause detectors (in the pavement) to shut off the green to that signal.

Can an officer of the law confiscate the driver’s device to determine compliance with the law?

Section 59. (b) of Indiana Code 9-21-8-59 adds:

  (b) A police officer may not confiscate a telecommunications device for the purpose of determining compliance with this section or confiscate a telecommunications device and retain it as evidence pending trial for a violation of this section.
As added by P.L.185-2011, SEC.4.

Since the law took effect on July 1, 2011, very few tickets have been written for violation of Indiana Code 9-21-8-59. Unless a driver admits to having broken the law, it would be difficult to prove as access to the phone by law enforcement is denied without a Court Order. Whiteland Town Marshal Rick Shipp told 24-hour News 8 partner, The Daily Journal, that police departments can get cellphone records only by court order and wouldn’t have the time to do so during a typical traffic stop.

So while the law as written has made it difficult to enforce, it has brought the issue of texting and driving to the forefront. Most drivers are aware of the dangers inherent in distracted driving. Many will wait until they have arrived at their destination or at the very least until they are stopped in traffic. But the best solution would be to wear a Bluetooth device compatible with your cell phone, become comfortable using the device and routinely sync it with your cell phone before leaving home.

Attorneys experienced in litigation of texting and driving crashes

The law firm of Ward & Ward is experienced in personal injury laws that may govern your financial recovery as a party injured by a negligent driver. If you or someone you know has been injured due to someone else’s negligent behavior, contact the law firm of Ward & Ward for a free analysis.

Charlie Ward

317-639-9501