Lawsuit Demands Apple Holds All iPhone Sales Over Texting While Driving Feature


Apple is facing a potential class action lawsuit for not implementing a technology that would prevent people from texting while driving. According to the lawsuit, Apple has had this technology since 2008, but has not implemented it due a fear that it would lose a significant portion of its customer base.

A lawsuit filed at the Los Angeles County Superior Court by lawyers at MLG Automotive Law demands Apple halt iPhone sales until the company upgrades its smartphones with a feature that forcibly prevents text messages from being composed while driving. The main plaintiff in the case, Julio Ceja from Costa Mesa, California, reportedly suffered injuries after his car was rear-ended at a stoplight by a woman who was texting on her iPhone at the moment of the incident.

The lawsuit, which names Ceja and "other similarly situated" plaintiffs, states that Apple has had a technology that prevents iPhones from being used to text while driving, as far back as in 2008. The company applied for a patent for this technology in that year, and it was granted in 2014. According to the patent abstract, the technology uses the smartphone's built-in motion analyzer and scenery analyzer and "does not require any modifications or additions to the vehicle."

No iPhone is equipped with this feature, because, according to the lawsuit, Apple is "fearful" that implementing its patented technology "would cause it to lose valuable market share."

The lawsuit alleges Apple and its iPhones are responsible for an estimated 52,000 automobile accidents annually in California alone, based on reports from the California Highway Patrol and the Federal Highway Administration. According to these reports, 312 Californians die in car crashes each year due to using an iPhone while texting.

"Texting and driving has become one of the most serious issues that confronts all of us on a daily basis," said MLG Automotive Law founding member Jonathan Michaels. "Legislating against drivers will unfortunately not solve the problem."

According to Michaels, people are unwilling to put away their cell phones while driving, and there is no way to make sure that they do. Implementing a lock-out feature is the only way to prevent automotive accidents.

This is not the first time this technology has been cited in court, as it was noted in lawsuits regarding accidents that happened in 2013 and 2014. In the first case, a Texas woman rammed an SUV while checking her iPhone for new messages, which resulted in death of the driver and his passenger, and left a child paralyzed.

In 2014, a driver using FaceTime, Apple's video-calling feature for iPhone, caused a car crash that resulted in the death of a 5-year-old girl. This tragedy became the point of another lawsuit against Apple that was filed in December 2016. The lawsuits are different, as this one does not demand implementing a technology, instead focusing on damages and medical expenses.