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ANDROID, APPLE, AND AUTO ACCIDENTS
April 29, 2015
It’s not up for debate: distracted driving can kill you.
According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2014, more than 9 people are killed and more than 1,153 people are injured each day in crashes involving distracted drivers.
But the question I find myself asking every time a new phone debuts is: does “hands free” tech actually reduce accidents?
The answer is: I don’t think so.
The statistics may say one thing, but what I see on the street on a daily basis tells me something else.
I was at a stoplight a few days ago and there were three cars on my left, two cars on my right, and one behind me. Each of the six drivers were looking down at their phones; none of them noticed when the light turned green. That made me wonder if they often fail to realize when the lights turn red, or when there are yield signs, or when they pass through children crossing signs.
The invention of the Bluetooth was supposed to change the game. Driving and looking at your cellphone was to be a thing of the past, but that does not seem to be the case.
Today I saw someone walk out of the Apple store with the new Apple Watch—an iPhone for your wrist. Two men across from me were discussing the advantages of having the Apple Watch on as opposed to a phone in your pocket. One of the men kept harping on the increased safety value of just being able to glance at the back of your hand. For a moment I found logic in that thinking until I saw the recent purchaser of the Apple Watch walk into moving traffic because he wouldn’t take his eyes off his new toy.
This observation leads me to one inescapable—and obvious—conclusion: unless your eyes and attention are fixed on the road ahead, you are a liability to yourself and everyone around you, regardless of how skilled you are behind the wheel.
If you are involved in an accident where the at-fault party is operating a cellphone or is otherwise driving distracted, there may be a basis for a negligence claim. If the person’s conduct behind the wheel while distracted was particularly reckless, there may even be grounds for punitive damages. But this is a double-edged sword. Even if you are injured by someone, but it comes to light that you were also not paying full attention to the road, it could reduce the money damages you would have received had you been paying attention.
So save the texting, Snap Chatting, Instagraming, Facebooking, Tweeting, and whatever other “social media-ing” verb there is for when you are not behind the wheel of a car.
Drive for yourself and for everyone else on the road.