In early September, Apple unveiled its two newest products—the iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch. The spy gadget-like Apple Watch, which users can wear around their wrists like a traditional watch, will feature over 50 applications and allow users to do things like respond to text messages, make payments, and navigate with GPS. The new iPhone, meanwhile, will have a larger screen, theoretically making it easier to consume information on the go.
While many Apple fans are excited to be able to get their hands on these products soon, the new devices also raise some safety concerns for drivers and pedestrians.
Tech That Allows for Multitasking Raises Risk of Accidents
The problem with technology that people can use on the go is that there will always be people who choose to use that technology when they shouldn’t, such as when they’re driving a car or walking down the street. In the wake of Apple’s product announcement, Businessweek reported on several cases of iPhone-related accidents, including a person who fell off a subway platform while texting, a person who fell off a pier into Lake Michigan while sending a three word text, and a college student who drove his truck over a cliff while, ironically, sending a text saying that he should stop texting because he could get into an accident.
Even seemingly convenient devices, like the Apple Watch, could pose a major distraction to pedestrians and drivers. Research has shown that engaging in visual-manual subtasks increases a driver’s risk of getting into an accident by as much as three times, and pedestrians who are focusing on electronic devices are taking their eyes off of potential hazards that could cause them to fall or be hit by a vehicle. Devices like the Apple Watch (or the recently released Google Glass) might lull users into a false sense of security because it is strapped to them and doesn’t require them to take their hands off the wheel while driving, but it still takes attention away from the road. And, while most states have now adopted a texting-while-driving ban, there are no regulations for new and different distracting devices.
Combatting Tech Use While Driving or Walking
Technophiles don’t have to forego new gadgets altogether in order to stay safe; they just need to know when to put those devices away. Drivers who are tempted to use electronic devices should consider placing their phones somewhere out of sight and reach, such as the glove compartment or trunk, to keep themselves from giving in to that temptation. Pedestrians should consider taking a similar out-of-sight, out-of-mind approach and put their devices in a pocket or bag. If you have to use your device while you’re on the go, find somewhere safe to pull over (if you’re driving) or stand out of the way of other foot and vehicle traffic (if you’re walking), and don’t continue traveling until you’ve put the device away again.
Be sure to encourage the people you care about to put away their electronics whenever they’re driving or walking somewhere, as well. Staying safe is always more important than responding to a text or fiddling with a GPS app to see if you missed your turn.
If you are injured as a result of someone using an electronic device while driving, call an Hold distracted drivers accountable in order to cut down on dangerous driving behavior.
About the Author:
Lawlor Winston White & Murphey. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, and was recently voted by his peers as a Florida “SuperLawyer”—an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state—and to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite.”