I noticed another distracted driving tragedy in the news recently. University of Northern Colorado student Alexander Heit crashed his car as a result of being distracted by texting while driving and died of his injuries soon after.
Included in the article was a photo of his iPhone displaying the last words he typed. His parents wanted the image shared as a reminder to others of the dangers of texting while driving.
The photo is an unfortunate association for Apple. While it could have easily been any phone, it made me wonder about how such an association might impact a company’s brand and how the handset companies will react.
Given increasing public awareness of the problem of distracted driving, I believe the first handset company to openly embrace the distracted driving issue and provide solutions as part of their operating system would elicit a positive reaction from consumers, particularly the parents of young drivers.
Imagine, for example, that as part of the set-up procedure for a new smartphone, the consumer is informed of the dangers of using that handset while driving and is offered the opportunity to enable a safe driving feature that automatically silences and disables the phone when driving.
Granted, some handset companies are taking steps to reduce distraction -- for example Siri Eyes Free and Motorola Smart Actions -- but I predict that we’ll see the major handset brands paying more and more attention to the issue of distracted driving to protect both their brand and their bottom line.