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Should Sending A Text To a Driver Be a Punishable Offense? [POLL]

Texting while driving.
Flickr user: mrJasonWeaver

In September of 2009 a 19 year old driver checked his phone to see who had sent him a text. This caused him to cross into the oncoming lane and crash into a couple on a motorcycle. The accident tore the leg off the man above the knee, and the woman had to have a leg amputated. There’s a lawsuit.

What makes this New Jersey lawsuit so unusual is that one of the people named in the case is Shannon Colonna, also 19 at the time, who sent the text. The legal argument is she either knew or should have known that the recipient was driving at the time. Can you hold this person accountable as contributing to the accident? I can’t see how. But Morris County Superior Court Judge David Rand will be making that very decision and we can expect a written opinion on May 25th. This would set an unbelievable legal precedent in this country. Never before has the sender of a text message been held responsible for what the recipient does.

In fact, think about it this way. If I’m driving a car and you’re sitting in the passenger seat yelling me that I should speed, that I should go through red lights, that I should drive on the sidewalk, and I listen to you and do it, who’s fault is that? Legally, it’s always been no one’s but mine. If we can’t blame someone who’s sitting in the actual car stupidly egging on a driver to break the law, how do we possibly blame someone for simply sending a text?

Even if she DID know he was driving at the time, isn’t it incumbent on the driver to choose a safe time to read the message and not on the sender as to when to safely send it?

What do you think?

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