Tag Archives: Texting while 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
[email protected]

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

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!

Cell Phones Responsible for 28% of all Auto, Motorcycle and Trucking Accidents

Cell Phones are Responsible for 28% of Motor Vehicle AccidentsCall Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501

It is estimated that nearly 28% of all accidents involve drivers that are talking on their cell phones or texting while driving. According to the National Safety Council (NCS):

“1.4 million crashes each year involve drivers using cell phones and a minimum of 200,000 additional crashes each year involve drivers who are texting.”

NSC has called for a ban on cell phone use of any kind while driving. And although Indiana legislators have not heeded the call for restricting cell phones all together, Indiana’s ban on texting went into effect on July 1st, 2011. IC 9-21-8-59 addresses the use of telecommunications devices:

(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.

(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.

The law is silent on making and receiving phone calls, surfing the web or checking GPS. This law is also problematic on the facility of enforcement since the burden of proof is upon the officer to prove that texting has occurred while driving. This law asserts the patrolling officer cannot legally check or seize the phone to be used as evidence in a trial.

How is it possible to cite a non-complying driver?

In the event of a tragic accident involving fatality, law enforcement is awarded the ability to pull phone records. In a case of wrongful death, proof of texting while driving increases the percentage of fault the texting driver and their insurance company must bear. See “What is Comparative Fault?” – a discussion about assigning a percentage of liability in Indiana tort claims. While one would think teens might be the largest offending group, the Pew Research Center has found that adults are equally as active both texting and talking while driving and probably carry on cell phone conversations behind the wheel more frequently than teenagers.

The conversation concerning texting and driving has raised the public’s awareness about the dangers and the consequences of distracted driving. How many of us have engaged in conversation while driving from one place to another and yet, when we arrive at our destination we don’t remember the events of the journey? Before you pick up your cell phone, dividing your attention between the wheel and the road, remind yourself that drivers using cell phones look, but fail to see, up to 50% of the information in their driving environment. Then think of your family and how much they love and depend upon you, and then consider that other drivers on the road have families too.

Be careful driving.

The law firm of Ward & Ward has over 80 years of combined experience in wrongful death claims, auto accident, motorcycle accident, trucking accident, and injuries associated with semi tractor-trailer accidents. Ward & Ward invite you to contact them to arrange a FREE initial consultation about your case, by phone at 317-639-9501, through their website at wardlawfirm.com, or simply by visiting their conveniently-located downtown Indianapolis office. If we decide your case has merit, you won’t be charged unless we recover damages on your behalf.