Suspect lawsuit aims to force Apple to block texting while driving… Should it?

A new class action lawsuit in California is going after Apple, claiming that the company has had technology to prevent texting and driving but has failed to implement it. The lawsuit alleges that, in refusing to implement a lockout system to prevent texting while driving, Apple is putting profits ahead of user safety…

The lawsuit, filed at the Los Angeles County Superior Court by MLG Automotive Law, centers around plaintiff Julio Ceja who was involved in a car accident where he was hit by another driver allegedly using her iPhone behind the wheel.

The far-reaching lawsuit claims that the iPhone is the culprit of 52,000 car accidents in California per year, as well as 312 deaths per year on average. Furthermore, the suit cites data from the U.S. Department of Transportation that claims 1.5 million people are texting and driving at any given moment, while the government agency also claims that texting and driving is six times more dangerous than driving under the influence.

There are a couple of things to note here. For one, the suit doesn’t specify if Apple’s current solutions, such as Hands-free Siri and CarPlay, are enough. Furthermore, the suit singles out Apple where as there are a variety of other devices from other manufacturers that are being used to text and drive.

It’s interesting to target Apple on an issue like this when Apple doesn’t make the law, which, in most states, allows hands-free solutions like Hands-free Siri and CarPlay.

The lawsuit claims that Apple has had the technology to prevent texting and driving since 2008, while it also points to a patent Apple was granted in 2014 for technology that would block users from texting and driving.

Apple has the ability to outfit its iPhones with a lock-out device that would disable the smartphone while being used by motorists. In fact, it has had this technology since 2008, and was granted a patent on it by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2014.

Yet, fearful that such a device would cause it to lose valuable market share, Apple refuses to employ the technology, choosing instead to allow the massive carnage to occur.

The lawsuit seeks to halt all iPhone sales in California until Apple introduces support for locking a device while the user is behind the wheel of a car. Additionally, the lawsuit asks that the feature be rolled out to all iPhones still in use.

The lawsuit is far reaching but it brings up a good point: should Apple be doing more to prevent texting and driving? The technology is there for it to do so, at least in some form. AT&T, for instance, offers tools to help parents prevent their kids from texting and driving, while Snapchat displays a warning when its  app is opened and the user is traveling at a certain speed.

The issue with this technology, however, is that it’s hard to differentiate between a passenger and a driver when just looking at speed.

Apple, of course, offers features such as Siri and CarPlay to make it safer to use an iPhone while operating a car. But should it go further? Should Apple implement a lockout mode?

You can follow on Twitter, add us to your circle on Google+ or like our Facebook page to keep yourself updated on all the latest from Apple and the Web.