A couple of years ago, Gary Klassen, the creator of BlackBerry Messsenger (BBM), told an audience at South by Southwest that he felt it was the responsibility of those who helped create the mobile messaging and texting revolution to create technology that would help prevent future harm from texting while driving. More than one personal injury lawyer has taken aim at Apple under a similar theory of duty, but the courts have been reluctant to agree. Klassen talked a bit about transparent dashboard technology for heads-up displays, but also emphasized that personal responsibility will probably always be required of drivers or operators -- so long as cars require drivers or operators.
Klassen was correct. Heads-up displays are very much real today, although not commonplace in mobile phones nor as integrated in the driving experience as Klassen had hoped they would be, but personal responsibity is still the most important factor in reducing injuries. While other technology has emerged to try to address the problem, including Apple's latest attempt at a "Do Not Disturb" while driving, which prevents the sending or receiving of text messages when the phone's sensors detect a car is moving, there are other innovations in mobile technology that exacerbate the problem. One such factor is that phones are bigger and more unyieldy. When Klassen made his comments at South By Southwest, a typical phone might have a display of 4.5 inches and it could be gripped with plenty of bezel and users could send text messengers with one hand. Today, it's exceedingly difficult to text with two hands on most phones; Apple's latest phone, the iPhone X is 5.8 inches with almost no bezel. Top Android phones are similarly sized and also feature very little bezel. Today, people still text and drive, but the shape of the phones make it more difficult for them to do so without causing an accident.
Our guess is that we'll see total phone integration into networked driverless cars within the next decade or two. We'd predict that things would move more quickly if it weren't for the regulatory hurdles. As for now, the statistics urging for drivers to be responsible enough not to text and drive and overwhelmingly persuasive.