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Apple software update could be the key to safer roads this fall

Distracted driving has become an increasing contributor to automobile accidents across America. According to the Pew Research Center, 95 percent of Americans now own cellphones. Moreover, 77 percent of Americans own smartphones, up from 35 percent in 2011. These devices pose particular challenges to road safety, since they deliver a range of applications and functionalities that can trigger distractions for a driver.

At Gregory S. Young Co., LPA, we take these risks seriously. For seven years running, our firm has sponsored the "Just Don't Do It/No TXT Zone" campaign across major media platforms in the Cincinnati tristate area including Local 12, Star64, and the CW. Our initiative for the public interest has joined together Cincinnati icons from Buddy La Rosa to the FC Cincinnati soccer franchise, reaching millions with the message: don't text while driving.

For this reason, we were pleased by Apple Inc.'s announcement on June 5, 2017 about a software update to its iPhone and iPad mobile devices. The new operating system, iOS 11, will debut this fall free-of-charge. As part of this update, Apple announced a "Do Not Disturb While Driving" feature that detects when the iPhone owner is operating a motor vehicle. Users who elect to turn on the feature will see their incoming alerts and notifications automatically silenced until they arrive-safely-at their destination.

We believe adoption of this feature will be encouraged by its potential for customization. For instance, users have the option of sending an "auto reply" to contacts listed in Favorites, informing them that they are driving and cannot respond for the moment. Furthermore, passengers have the ability to press an "I'm Not Driving" alert, which disables the feature for their ride. Thoughtful measures such as these ensure that the feature will come in handy for a larger subset of users.

Although we advise our readers to consider adopting this software feature and others like it, we nonetheless recognize that distracted driving will remain a problem. Automobile travel may never be perfectly safe, but those who are injured in an accident have recourse to protect themselves. Rightfully, according to our legal system, victims of distracted driving have options.

Source: Apple, Inc., "iOS 11 brings powerful new features to iPhone and iPad this fall," June 5, 2017.

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