Apple found not at fault for fatal FaceTime car crash

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Ford CarPlay
It’s not Apple’s fault if you get distracted by the CarPlay infotainment system or your iPhone.
Photo: Ford

It isn’t Apple’s responsibility to prevent you from doing dangerous things with your iPhone.

That’s the decision of an appeals court in California this morning in a case related to a man who crashed while driving and apparently making a video call on his iPhone. The ruling puts it much more formally, of course.

In 2014, Garrett Wilhelm was making a FaceTime call while behind the wheel of his vehicle and rear-ended another car at high speed. Tragically, Maria Modisette, who was in the car with Wilhelm, was killed by the crash. The young girl’s family sued Apple because the iPhone didn’t include motion-sensing technology that blocked the use of FaceTime when driving.  

Apple had filed for a patent on such tech back in 2008, about 6 years before the crash, so the iPhone potentially could have had it. The lawsuit claimed the iPhone 6 was defective for not employing the tech.

A court ruled against the family’s lawsuit in May, and today a California appeals court upheld that ruling. The court said Apple “did not owe the Modisettes a duty of care”. Because the company doesn’t owe a duty of care, it’s not possible for Apple to be legally negligent in this situation.

Do Not Disturb While Driving

In last year’s iOS 11, Apple introduced a feature that switches your iPhone into Do Not Disturb mode when you’re traveling in a car. In addition, many applications also sense when an iPhone is in a moving car and warn against use while driving.

Both of those safety systems can be overridden by passengers… or by drivers.

Source: BBC