Apple sued for not implementing iPhone lock-out feature to discourage texting and driving

Shawn Knight

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

A California man has levied a class action lawsuit against Apple in Los Angeles Superior Court over the company’s decision to not implement technology that would prevent drivers from texting while behind the wheel.

Julio Ceja, who was rear-ended by a driver allegedly distracted while using her iPhone, isn’t seeking monetary damages (save for legal fees). Instead, Ceja hopes Apple will be forced to halt sales of its iPhones in The Golden State until a lock-out mechanism preventing people from using their smartphones while driving is implemented.

The complaint states that, if texting and driving is a vessel of trouble, Apple is the captain of the ship.

Ceja’s lawsuit points to a patent that Apple filed for in 2008 and subsequently received in 2014. Titled “Driver Handheld Computing Device Lock-Out,” the patent outlines the use of a “motion analyzer” and “scenery analyzer” to disable a mobile device from being used while driving.

In the patent, Apple notes that texting while driving has become so widespread that it is doubtful that law enforcement will have any significant effect on stopping the practice. Indeed, Apple’s analysis from 2008 was spot-on and unfortunately, the issue has only gotten worse since the patent was filed for.

Sure, it’s incredibly irresponsible of people to play on their smartphones while behind the wheel but trying to pin the blame for such behavior on the maker of the device is just another example of the unfortunate litigious society we’ve created.

Millions of people on a daily basis make the conscious decision to interact with their phone while behind the wheel despite being fully aware of the potentially disastrous consequences. Locking down smartphones while a vehicle is in motion would only lead to further lawsuits.

Sadly, the only real solution to this epidemic – fully autonomous vehicles – is still many years away. In the meantime, man up and take responsibility for your actions. When behind the wheel, you have just one job: to drive. That’s it.

If you’re determined to sue somebody, go after the driver of the other vehicle that was more concerned with sending a text than keeping their eyes on the road. It’s not the job of Apple, Samsung, LG, HTC, Xiaomi, Huawei or Lenovo to protect people from their own stupidity.

Lead image courtesy Getty

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"Sure, it’s incredibly irresponsible of people to play on their smartphones while behind the wheel but trying to pin the blame for such behavior on the maker of the device is just another example of the unfortunate litigious society we’ve created."

Could not have said it better.
 

Kenrick

TS Evangelist
It is easier to say than implement it. These kind of lawsuit are mostly for PR, fame whoring and monetary purposes. I guess this is the trend in the states where they sue every manufacturer because of people's negligence.

Why not just teach and fine them higher or to revoke their licenses if found guilty. In this way we dont rely to technology but use what our creator has given us which is "common sense".
 
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m4a4

TS Evangelist
I might not be an apple fan, but this is just stupid. There literally is no way that apple can reliably implement such a feature into it's software (on their own).
Too many organic variables for it to be reliable. Car manufacturers would have to have a standardized, well, I don't know for it to even be effective. If they implemented a software only approach, I'd expect that you can turn it off in settings (like most people would do) or fool it somehow.

Sure they have a patent, but it's just apple throwing money at their lawyers to win at patent trolling.

People are the root of the problem. But have fun figuring out a good solution to that :p
 
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gusticles41

TS Evangelist
Suing a company for not creating something...Interesting.

I guess I'm going to pull up a list of approved patents and start going nuts.
 

Kibaruk

TechSpot Paladin
I'm not behind the sue everyone motto yet this guy is spot on with the idea behind it (Not the actual litigious action). People won't learn from others mistakes, hell, they won't even learn from their own mistakes. That's when laws come in between, yet, when there is no one there to enforce it they will go back to their bad habits.

No one says it will be easy to implement, but with some help from the authorities and to force this into both smartphone and car manufacturers, they could go a long way. Just an idea, with the help of car manufacturers and a simple bluetooth "beacon" or other form of connectivity in the vehicle, that will scan and locate where the phones are inside the car and through a handshake while the vehicle is in movement will lock the phone situated on the drivers seat (Sure you can just turn off bluetooth, but it was just an idea, hundreds of engineers are out there to make it actually happen, so don't be ducking donkeyholes).

An alliance between car manufacturers and phone makes + the authorities = win for everyone.
 
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wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
I'm not behind the sue everyone motto yet this guy is spot on with the idea behind it (Not the actual litigious action). People won't learn from others mistakes, hell, they won't even learn from their own mistakes. That's when laws come in between, yet, when there is no one there to enforce it they will go back to their bad habits.

No one says it will be easy to implement, but with some help from the authorities and to force this into both smartphone and car manufacturers, they could go a long way. Just an idea, with the help of car manufacturers and a simple bluetooth "beacon" or other form of connectivity in the vehicle, that will scan and locate where the phones are inside the car and through a handshake while the vehicle is in movement will lock the phone situated on the drivers seat (Sure you can just turn off bluetooth, but it was just an idea, hundreds of engineers are out there to make it actually happen, so don't be ducking donkeyholes).

An alliance between car manufacturers and phone makes + the authorities = win for everyone.
Right there with you!

Shawn, all it takes is one incident where you are involved that was caused by some egregiously inconsiderate driver that could not wait to text or pull over to text and I bet you would change your tune about legislating something like this. Will you start arguing that we should allow people to drink and drive because that it too much nanny nation for people to handle?

Just in case you are not aware of it, distracted driving is a bigger killer than drunk driving. Care to educate yourself?
http://distracteddriveraccidents.com/texting-driving-dangerous-drunk-driving/
http://www.cnbc.com/id/31545004
http://www.techtimes.com/articles/8185/20140609/texting-is-more-dangerous-than-drugs-alcohol-while-driving-study.htm
http://www.caranddriver.com/features/texting-while-driving-how-dangerous-is-it
 

Vrmithrax

TechSpot Paladin
Seriously, this is the "nanny state" to the nth degree... The guy wants them to stop sales of Apple products until such time as Apple is FORCED to get an old Apple-exclusive conceptual patent somehow pulled out of mothballs, then implemented properly to work in every vehicle (at our expense, no doubt)... The shear complexity of what would be required to get it reliably active in all vehicles and situations is enormous, and likely why it never made it from concept patent to practical implementation. The liability alone that Apple would face if their system failed to detect certain driver situations could be a deal breaker. Not to mention that it would only work for Apple devices unless all other manufacturers were forced to license the rights to use the patented process...

There is just so much that is ridiculous and absurd in this lawsuit, I can't imagine it getting far, unless the judge is a complete luddite without the first clue about how basic technology works. And the fact that just having an idea you patent doesn't give the world the right to force you to develop it OR ELSE.
 

antiproduct

TS Addict
It'd be nice if phones just had a "driving mode" that the user could turn on when they want that would just send an auto reply of "I'm driving" to anyone who called/texted/sent a push notification (except if the first word was emergency or something). Then when they stopped (considering my phone knows where I parked my car now days) it could just turn back on to regular mode and send all the missed notifications. That way the driver hopefully wouldn't have the temptation to look at their phone while driving. Because most texts really aren't so important that they need to be answered right away.
 

jobeard

TS Ambassador
NO amount of legislation will stop stupidity! There's no way to tell if the driver or the passenger is using the mobile device :sheez:
 
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davislane1

I guarantee you this is the guy everyone has to go around on the expressway because driving 5mph lower than the posted limit "saves lives."
 

Lionvibez

TS Evangelist
I guarantee you this is the guy everyone has to go around on the expressway because driving 5mph lower than the posted limit "saves lives."
lol people like that should be taken to the shed in the back and shot.

Half the planet is full of morons he better get use to it, going after apple is a waste of time.
 
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otinanai

TS Rookie
If they implement this feature the driver would have to raise his right hand to enable the phone and he is gonna text even slower .This is the sad truth
 

Emexrulsier

TS Evangelist
How can you sue someone for your own self inabilities and control. Next people will be suing trainer makers when they fall over claiming they should have added auto balancing tech, or they will sue power tool companies because there tools didn't detect and prevent and inevitable incident due to a users retardation!
 

Matt12345170

TS Addict
I imagine it would be rather difficult to differentiate between a bus ride and driving a car.

-- not to mention the location services that would be required
 

Squid Surprise

TS Evangelist
It'd be nice if phones just had a "driving mode" that the user could turn on when they want that would just send an auto reply of "I'm driving" to anyone who called/texted/sent a push notification (except if the first word was emergency or something).
Actually, Apple already has this... you can set your iPhone to send custom messages automatically if you want... pretty simple to add "I'm driving" as one of them...

Shawn, all it takes is one incident where you are involved that was caused by some egregiously inconsiderate driver that could not wait to text or pull over to text and I bet you would change your tune about legislating something like this. Will you start arguing that we should allow people to drink and drive because that it too much nanny nation for people to handle?

Just in case you are not aware of it, distracted driving is a bigger killer than drunk driving. Care to educate yourself?
Distracted driving IS illegal.... the argument here is to see who's responsible... The maker of the distraction, or the person who IS distracted.

No one is arguing that Drinking and Driving should be legal - but it seems you want to hold Budweiser responsible for when I drink 20 Bud Lights and then drive my car into a ditch...

One of the problems with today's society is that nobody wants to take any responsibility for their own actions: I trip in the store and break my leg... instead of just saying "dang, I'm a clumsy fool", I decide to sue the store's owner. I text on my phone while driving and crash into someone... instead of facing the consequence of my actions, I decide it's Apple's fault for enabling me?!?!?!
 
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stewi0001

TS Evangelist
Platinum
It'd be nice if phones just had a "driving mode" that the user could turn on when they want that would just send an auto reply of "I'm driving" to anyone who called/texted/sent a push notification (except if the first word was emergency or something).
Actually, Apple already has this... you can set your iPhone to send custom messages automatically if you want... pretty simple to add "I'm driving" as one of them...

Shawn, all it takes is one incident where you are involved that was caused by some egregiously inconsiderate driver that could not wait to text or pull over to text and I bet you would change your tune about legislating something like this. Will you start arguing that we should allow people to drink and drive because that it too much nanny nation for people to handle?

Just in case you are not aware of it, distracted driving is a bigger killer than drunk driving. Care to educate yourself?
Distracted driving IS illegal.... the argument here is to see who's responsible... The maker of the distraction, or the person who IS distracted.

No one is arguing that Drinking and Driving should be legal - but it seems you want to hold Budweiser responsible for when I drink 20 Bud Lights and then drive my car into a ditch...

One of the problems with today's society is that nobody wants to take any responsibility for their own actions: I trip in the store and break my leg... instead of just saying "dang, I'm a clumsy fool", I decide to sue the store's owner. I text on my phone while driving and crash into someone... instead of facing the consequence of my actions, I decide it's Apple's fault for enabling me?!?!?!
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. That is the key, people are not wanting to be responsible anymore. I would write more but I don't want to really get into this anymore.