While it’s long been known that cell phone distractions can cause car accidents and, in fact, have killed thousands of Americans, the forms of cell phone distractions keep changing and increasing. Not content with talking or texting by cell phone while at the wheel, many drivers now have the added distractions of video chatting, perhaps via Skype or FaceTime.
Video chats enable persons at either end of the connection to see each other while talking. But if just talking on a phone is distracting while driving, imagine talking and driving while also looking at a video screen. It sounds like a formula for fatalities — and it has been.
In fact, FaceTime is the subject of a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the Texas parents of a girl, 5, who was killed in a car crash near Dallas on Dec. 24, 2014. That’s when a driver engaged with Apple’s FaceTime video chatting crashed into the Modisette family’s car while traveling at 65 miles per hour.
Police reportedly discovered that FaceTime was running on the iPhone of the driver who plowed into the family’s vehicle. Killed in the Christmas Eve tragedy was Moriah Modisette.
Now her parents are suing FaceTime maker Apple for failing to implement iPhone features which would have automatically disabled FaceTime by using technology in the iPhone which can detect highway speeds.
The family contends that Apple was aware of the dangers of drivers using FaceTime while at the wheel, given the fact that, in 2008, Apple patented a “lockout” technology to disengage FaceTime. But no such technology prevented their tragic crash.
The family’s video chatting lawsuit was filed recently in Santa Clara Superior Court in California. Apple’s corporate headquarters are located in Cupertino, CA, which is in Santa Clara County and near San Jose.
Apple has not yet commented on the lawsuit.
Along with Facetime for iPhones, video chatting apps also are available for many other types of cell phones, including those by Android. In fact, Android alone offers four different video chatting apps.
Other video chatting apps include those by Tango, ooVoo, Google Hangouts and Verizon’s Advanced Calling 1.0. Such devices as these or Facebook’s Messengers also can be used via a pad or a regular computer, not just a phone.
Keep in mind that the person at the other end of a video chatting app must have the same app for the connection to work. But some apps are more adaptable than others. Google’s new Duo app, for instance, is available for both Android and iOS users, unlike Facetime.
Some apps also enable users to gather in groups for simultaneous video chats involving many family or business members. This can be a rewarding experience.
But, using video chat devices while trying to drive a car at high speeds is beyond foolish. It is reckless and willfully dangerous. In fact, such video calls clearly are even more dangerous than audio-only calls, which at least don’t encourage drivers to look regularly at a phone’s screen.
Jim Adler & Associates staunchly supports safe driving efforts and urges all Americans to “hang up and drive.”
If you or a loved one was injured in a distracted driving accident with a driver who was video chatting or otherwise driving recklessly, contact our law firm for a free case review. Your family may be legally entitled to substantial financial compensation for your injury losses via a distracted driving lawsuit.