We all know that many states have passed laws making it illegal to text and drive. (If you are interested in seeing an updated map showing the states that have such laws, just scroll down to the bottom of this post.)
But recently, New Jersey has taken this one step further. In 2009, there was a horrible accident where it was determined that the cause was texting between a young man and his girlfriend. This particular case raised the issue: should the sender be responsible as well?
This week, the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, said YES:
“if the sender knows that the recipient is both driving and will read the text immediately, then the sender has taken a foreseeable risk in sending a text at that time. The sender has knowingly engaged in distracting conduct, and it is not unfair also to hold the sender responsible for the distraction.”
Now in this particular case, the suit was dismissed against the girlfriend-sender because they could not prove that she knew her boyfriend was driving when she sent the texts.
However, the door is now open for future actions against a sender who knows the receiver is driving.
I spent a little time looking around the internet and my unscientific search seemed to show most commenters firmly coming down on the side of “this is stupid.” (That’s an exact quote I read often.)
I’m not sure what I think. I do know that I would never text someone I knew was driving… that’s just plain common sense.
But basically I believe the responsibility should sit firmly with the person doing the driving. No sharing the blame. Just don’t look at your phone when you are behind the wheel. No excuses.
What do you think?