Outrage: NJ Court Rules Texting To Someone That Is Driving Could Make You Liable
A statement made by the New Jersey Appeals Court this week has a number of people in an uproar, and after learning the details, it's not hard to understand why. To be fair to the story, it's best to understand where the ruling stems from.
In 2009, a girl texted a friend who happened to be driving his truck at the time. This driver went on to drive into a couple on a motorcycle, resulting in both losing parts of their legs. In the end, the girl who texted the driver of a vehicle was ruled not liable for the accident (likely the result of no deaths being involved), but the Appeals Court has stated that things won't be the same with all cases.
What's being said, in effect, is that if you text someone who happens to be driving, and they get into an accident, you could be held partially liable. The official ruling is: "that a person sending text messages has a duty not to text someone who is driving if the texter knows, or has special reason to know, the recipient will view the text while driving"
While it goes without saying that in some cases, you're going to know that who you're texting is driving (they could very well be en route to your place), there's no way of knowing if everyone you text is going to be doing the same. You're not a mind-reader - and what's expected of you... to wait until a definitive time to send the text? The logic is hard to glean there.
Ultimately, it should be up to the driver to decide whether or not to pick up their phone, much like if I see I just received a new email while ardently working, I have the choice to distract myself, or continue focusing on the task at hand.
It's worth noting that no one seems to have been charged for this "crime" yet, but if it does eventually happen, and it seems likely that it could, it's sure to be a case that reaches the top of the headlines very quickly.