Texting and Driving, it’s a killer
While Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and other groups focused their attention on drunk driving, it seems a distraction, one as innocuous as sending a text message, may have become an even more deadly monster. According to reports, there are an estimated 3,000 teenagers who died last year due to texting compared to roughly 2,700 teens killed annually due to drunk driving.
So what should we do about texting? First, we have to talk to our kids. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control found that among high school students 16 and older, “45% of the 8,100 teens surveyed had texted or emailed while driving during the preceding 30 days.” The reason given by researchers for this high incidence of risky behavior such as texting may be what it has always been: kids don’t recognize hazardous driving situations and they don’t recognize risk like a mature adult.
We all know that kids can be idiots, but according to reports, their parents are idiots too. Before you gripe at your kid texting it’s time to look in the mirror. The CDC also reports “31% of US drivers 18–64 reported reading or sending text messages or emails while behind the wheel at least once in the 30 days prior to being surveyed.” Huh? This proves that sometimes parents and adults are idiots too.
New Jersey Court holds cell phone users who text liable for injuries
So if you are not supposed to text and drive and you don’t have the self-control to stop, you can always count on the government to intervene. CNN reports that a New Jersey state appeals court has decided if you text a driver who you know is driving, you could be held liable if he causes a crash.
The decision stems from a case in September of 2009 where two teens, a boyfriend and girlfriend, were texting back and forth. According to reports, they sent approximately 62 texts to each other in one day. The driver, Kyle Best, received a text message from his girlfriend Shannon Colonna. At the same time another couple, David and his wife Linda Kubert, were coming towards Best in an opposing lane of traffic.
Best, while answering and texting, hit the Kuberts head on, nearly severing David’s left leg and shattering Linda’s left leg, leaving her fractured thighbone protruding out of the skin. In a negligence lawsuit, the Kuberts decided to file a personal injury suit not only against Best, the offending driver, but also against Colonna. They lost the case but appealed the decision and won on appeal- at least in principle.
According to the Kubert’s lawyer, Stephen Weinstein, the person texting Best knew he was driving and was responsible for distracting him. Weinstein argued the distraction should be treated similarly to any other action performed by someone in the car with Best.
Specifically, the court ruled, “We hold that the sender of a text message can potentially be liable if an accident is caused by texting, but only if the sender knew or had special reason to know that the recipient would view the text while driving and thus be distracted,” the court said.
What happened to Colonna?
But what happened to Colonna? Ultimately, the court decided that as a prolific texter, meaning Colonna texted more than 100 times per day, she was “oblivious” as to whether or not Best was driving at the time he answered her texts. Ultimately the court decided, “She bore no responsibility.”
What does the governor, Chris Christie, think? In an interview on radio station New Jersey 101.5, the governor said, “You have the obligation to keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel and pay attention to what you’re doing.”
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