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Should Cell Makers Prevent Teens From Texting And Driving?

A lawsuit against Apple currently before a Texas court raises an important question about texting and driving: Do smartphone manufacturers have a duty to prevent you from texting while behind the wheel?

The lawsuit stems from a 2013 accident where a young woman who was checking her iPhone while driving crashed into another vehicle, killing a driver and passenger and paralyzing a child.

The families of the victims allege in their filing that Apple knew the dangers of texting while driving and has done nothing to address the problem. A key piece of evidence is a patent that Apple holds for technology that will automatically disable a phone when being used by a driver of a moving car.

In its application for the patent, Apple acknowledges that texting while driving has become a widespread problem and that it will be difficult for law enforcement to do anything about it. If Apple has actually developed the technology, it has not announced it.

Phone Makers Want To Leave The Decisions In Your Hands

While all smartphone manufacturers and wireless service providers warn against texting and driving, they take little action to actually stem the problem. They say that any technology that could lockout drivers' phones is still unreliable and not ready for market. Instead, they encourage people to take advantage of airplane mode, do-not-disturb mode or third-party applications that can silence notifications.

Safety experts accuse phone makers of lacking the fortitude to be the first company to go out on a limb with anti-distracted driving technology. Instead, the companies rely on individual consumers to make their own decisions.

It Is Hard To Resist Using The Phone

But many experts say - and AT&T has commissioned research on the subject - that smartphone usage has addictive properties. In essence, people become hooked on getting notifications, and it can be hard to put the device down, even when behind the wheel. In 2016, it isn't just texting either, people - especially teens - are using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp and even Pokémon Go while driving.

While teens hear countless tales about distracted driving accidents and are warned against the behavior while earning their license, it appears the messages are having a hard time getting through. This probably isn't a surprise to you. Have you ever had to tell your teen something twice? How many times a day do you have to do this?

What Do You Think?

As a parent, you are no doubt aware of the dangers of using a smartphone while driving. Even taking your eyes off the road for a split second can cause a serious accident. If you injure or kill someone else, you could be facing serious criminal charges or an expensive lawsuit. While it is your job to set a good example for your child, you cannot be with them at all times. Can you confiscate your child's phone if you want him or her to stay in contact with you when away from home?

And people who work for phone makers also do not live in a bubble. They are aware of the risks as well. If consumers are not stopping on their own, should phone companies share in the responsibility to prevent teens from acting on their impulses? Let us know what you think. 

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