Apple recently announced the launch of its newest operating system for
iPhone and iPad at the 2017 Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose,
California. The newest operating system, iOS 11, will be available for
free to the public in the fall of 2017. Apple’s updates and announcements
usually generate excitement and media buzz, with a host of new features
and tools. In addition to convenience features, such as the ability to
send money to your friends with Apple Pay and the addition of maps for
indoor malls and airport terminals, Apple has added one potentially important
safety feature: Do Not Disturb While Driving.
The Do Not Disturb While Driving feature will automatically mute or suppress
notifications and send automatic replies on your behalf if you receive
text messages while driving. iPhone users will be able to create auto-replies
to send to their contacts in their “Favorites” list to alert
contacts that they are driving should they send a message while the feature
is activated. When the driver connects their phone to their vehicle via
Bluetooth, the Do Not Disturb While Driving feature can detect the speed
of the moving vehicle to automatically determine if a user is driving
and activate the feature. Concerned that you will not be able to use your
iPhone while a passenger in a moving vehicle? Apple has, of course, anticipated
that issue. If a vehicle’s passenger’s iPhone disables notifications
as a result of the automatic feature, the passenger will be able to override
the safety feature to allow messaging on their iPhone only.
Given that distracted driving remains a major problem on American roads,
Apple’s addition of the Do Not Disturb While Driving feature is
a step in the right direction. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
(“NHTSA”) reports that just in 2015, motor vehicle crashes
involving distracted drivers killed 3,477 people and injured another 391,000
people. It is estimated that approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell
phones while driving during daylight hours. As you can imagine, this creates
enormous potential for serious injuries and deaths due to motor vehicle
collisions. Teenagers remain the largest age group reported as being distracted
at the time of fatal motor vehicle accidents.
Though this new feature is certainly an improvement, some have doubts about
just how effective the feature will be when it is launched. Apple's
senior vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi, reported
in the launch announcement that iPhone users will still be able to allow
messages from certain contacts to get through so “you have the peace
of mind that you can get contacted,” Federighi said. Leaving this
“loophole” in the feature will likely reduce the positive
impact that the feature will have on distracted driving. Although most
U.S. states have banned cellphone use by young or new drivers, only 14
states have banned the use of hand-held devices by
The announcement of the new feature to be included in the rollout of iOS
11 comes on the heels of a lawsuit filed in December of 2016 by the family
of a 5-year-old girl who was killed in a crash caused by a distracted
driver who was allegedly using the FaceTime video feature while driving.
The family’s legal filings allege that despite Apple having filed
for a patent as far back as 2014 on a safety feature to block iPhone users
from using FaceTime while driving, Apple never implemented it.
The personal injury attorneys at the
Halperin Law Center have many years of experience handling serious personal injury and wrongful
death cases involving distracted drivers in Virginia, the District of
Columbia and Maryland. If you or have suffered serious injuries or a loved
one has been killed at the hands of a distracted driver, we can help.
Contact our Richmond personal injury lawyers at the Halperin Law Center and request a free consultation today.