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Smartphones Behind the Wheel: Help or Hindrance?

Advancements in technology have made vast improvements in travel and transportation. Some of the biggest technological changes to how we get around are smartphones and other digital computer platforms. Nowadays, it is not uncommon for vehicles to be equipped with their own computer systems in the dashboard, which offer motorists a variety of assistance and luxury features. Now, developers are finding ways to put these technological advancements to use for driver safety.

A recent study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Agency (NHTSA) has identified some important questions regarding how smartphones and vehicles could interface in the future. The report could spur some smartphone makers to include vehicle safety technologies in their infotainment system applications. This feature would then lock out or prevent the driver from accessing certain features while he or she is operating the vehicle.

The NHTSA released another study in 2016 that discussed a safety proposal for smartphone manufacturers. It suggests that the smartphone operating systems be equipped with a Driver Mode that will prevent the driver from accessing certain features on the phone while in transit. Some of the features that would be off-limits during travel would be social media, video, web surfing, and manual text entry. The proposal also considered taking Driver Mode one step further and having it automatically activate if the driver has not engaged it prior to operating the vehicle or if the driver has not paired it with his or her vehicle.

When technology and transit intertwine, however, there can be unintended consequences that lead to even more serious accidents. Self-driving cars are another advancement that has many folks excited, but when the technological components of these vehicles fail, they can lead to devastating injuries. These vehicles promise drivers assistance with parking, automatic braking, lane-centering, and in some cases automated driving. Although the NHTSA has concluded that 90 percent of all auto collision deaths are results of driver inattention to some degree, increasing our reliance on automated technologies may pose additional and unforeseen dangers.

If a product malfunctions and leads to an injury-causing accident, the victim can bring a product liability claim against the manufacturer. Each state has different rules for what a plaintiff must establish in this type of lawsuit to prevail. In general, the plaintiff must show that the device was designed in an unreasonably safe manner, suffered from a design defect during the manufacturing process, or failed to include appropriate warnings and instructions. Additionally, each state takes a different approach to defining when a product will be considered unreasonably dangerous. Some states require the plaintiff to show that the product is more dangerous than a reasonable consumer would expect, while others require a showing that the dangers of the product outweigh any of its benefits.

At Moll Law Group, we are dedicated car accident lawyers who pride ourselves on providing clients with the dedicated and knowledgeable legal counsel that they deserve. Navigating the legal system is complicated, particularly if this is your first experience with litigation and if you are dealing with painful injuries. We serve clients throughout Illinois, New York, Florida, and California and offer a free consultation to discuss your situation. Call us now at 312-462-1700 or contact us online to get started.

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