There was an article in the New York Times two weeks ago entitled “Phone Makers Could Cut Off Drivers Why Don’t They?” The article asked if it is easy to disable the phone at road speeds, why don’t phone makers do that and cut down on texting and driving. My short answer is an effort to auto disable phones when moving at vehicle speeds would have inherent flaws that could open the phone maker up to legal liability that does not exist if they don’t even try. Moreover, the failure to save us from our own stupidity is not the job of the manufacturer.
None of us want dangerous products on the market. Cigarettes are dangerous, but so long as there are warnings, we can put on our big boy pants and smoke ourselves to death. Knives are supposed to be sharp; we know to be careful with them. We will not tolerate baby cribs with slats so wide that babies can choke to death. We will not accept poisonous drugs. We will not accept aircraft with substandard welds.
Cell phone use in cars whether it is music apps, maps, email or texting, is rampant. The technology is addictive from a sociological perspective, but not in the way that cigarettes are with chemicals added to addict the customer. They are just very sticky technologies. So now lawyers are filing suits against technology manufacturers claiming they should protect the consumer and the motoring public from themselves. The problem with holding them responsible is their decisions are not bad enough to be the proximate cause of the crash. The cause is the driver being careless enough to use technology that everyone knows is dangerous.
The simple truth is people will always make stupid decisions and put others in danger. We need to stick to the rules of causation. Not every little thing that contributed to a wrong should be sueable. It’s just not a world I want to live in. Stick to the rules and stick with common sense.