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NJ Court Rules Text Sender Can Be Liable in Text-and-Drive Accidents

A new appeals court ruling today in New Jersey may make you pause before you send your next text, whether you’re behind the wheel or not.

In today’s ruling, Superior Court Appellate Division Judge Victor Ashrafi wrote, “We conclude 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,”

Texting
Anjan Hedge, Flickr

The ruling was in response to a suit filed against a New Jersey woman, who as a 17-year-old in 2009, texted her boyfriend. He was driving at the time, and shortly after receiving her text, he crashed into a motorcycle, causing the couple on the bike to lose part of their legs. She was not held responsible in that case.

What does it mean?

If you know someone is driving, and you text them, then they cause an accident while reading or replying to it, you’re responsible.

What?

Shouldn’t it be the driver’s responsibility to not read the text until they stop driving?

Sure, the non-driving texter is tempting the person with the text, but no one is forcing the driver to read it. If someone buys me a drink, knowing I have to drive, shouldn’t it be MY responsibility not to get in the car?

I don’t understand the ‘blame everyone else’ mentality that surrounds us all lately. I appreciate the measures to increase safety by reducing the appeal of texting while driving, but I would moreso appreciate good common sense.

Personal responsibility. Let’s all give it a try.

Have you ever texted someone who you knew was driving? Tell us in the comment section below!

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