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Tech giant Apple is facing a lawsuit over not disabling its iPhone’s functionality when in use behind the wheel, according to a new report.

Website MacRumors reports Julio Ceja, a resident from Apple’s home state of California, is seeking a class action lawsuit against the company for not implementing a lock-out mechanism to prevent drivers from using their phones behind the wheel.

According to the report Ceja is demanding that sales of iPhones should be halted in California until such a feature is implemented, and that Apple needs to release a software update that adds a lock-out feature to all iPhones already being used by consumers.

The complaint – which was filed with the Los Angeles Superior Court last week, says Apple’s “enormous market share” makes it the “largest contributor” to texting behind the wheel, which constitutes “unfair business acts and practices” under California’s Unfair Competition Law. A jury trial has also been demanded.


“If texting and driving is a vessel of trouble, Apple is the captain of the ship,” Ceja alleges in his complaint.

The document also points out that Apple has previously recognised the dangers of texting and driving, along with the role it plays in bucking the trend, through a patent the company filed in 2008 then published in 2014 – which detailed a lock-out mechanism for the iPhone.

In the patent, a motion analyser detects if a handheld device is in motion beyond a certain speed, while a scenery analyser would be capable of determining whether the device is located within a safe operating area of the vehicle.

Should both sensors detect the conditions are unsafe, the device’s functionality would be disabled.

Last year the US Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed a similar concept, with guidelines for a mobile phone ‘driver mode’ which would disable certain functions of the device – for example manual text messaging and social media – while the user is driving, to avoid driver distraction.

MY16 Spark_Apple Carplay
Above: Apple CarPlay and Android Auto offer a simplified interface on infotainment systems to reduce mobile phone use while driving

While the company is yet to comment on Ceja’s complaint, in 2015 Apple faced a similar lawsuit, and, in response said the responsibility is on the driver to avoid distractions.

“We discourage anyone from allowing their iPhone to distract them by typing, reading or interacting with the display while driving,” Apple said in a statement to the New York Times in 2015.

“For those customers who do not wish to turn off their iPhones or switch into ‘Airplane Mode’ while driving to avoid distractions, we recommend the easy-to-use ‘Do Not Disturb’ and ‘Silent Mode’ features.”

Do you think it’s up to phone companies to curb driver distraction or should people just get off their phones when behind the wheel? Let us know in the comments below

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