New Jersey considering lawsuit against woman who texted her boyfriend prior to motor vehicle accident
A Superior Court judge in Morristown, New Jersey is considering whether or not a woman who knowingly texted her boyfriend, while he was driving, and who ultimately crashed into a couple on a motorcycle, can be held responsible in civil court.
According to the report, the 18 year old driver was "glancing" at texts from his girlfriend when he crossed traffic and hit two motorcyclists. The driver plead guilty to using his cellphone while driving, was fined $775, and has to make speeches about the dangers of texting and driving, which is illegal in the state of New Jersey.
The motorcyclists are suing the driver, but are also seeking to have his girlfriend added to the suit as well. Their attorney told The New York Post:
The girlfriend's attorney told The Daily Record that it's not fair or reasonable, and that the girlfriend has no way to control when her boyfriend is going to read her messages.
A decision is expected May 25.
Now, I'm not an attorney, I do not play one on this blog, and I know next to nothing about contributory negligence, but there does not appear to be any precedence to this case the way there is to drinking and driving cases, for example.
The laws surrounded distracted driving are also patchwork. They often target specific items, like phones, instead of general principles. Putting on makeup. Reading newspapers. Drinking and eating. Changing radio stations. Focusing on GPS. Looking at expensive cars. Staring at scantily clad humans.
Conversely, new technologies are emerging that allow for different ways to interact with mobile devices. Chief among them, Siri. With Siri, instead of staring and typing, you can do more listening and talking. You can hear SMS and dictate responses. When it works.
All of this raises a lot of questions. Should there be specific laws against texting, or should there be more general laws against distracted driving? If there are always against texting, should new interfaces like Siri be exempt? Is having a conversation on the phone, or with Siri, different than having a conversation with a passenger who could, theoretically serve as a second set of eyes on the road?
And if something like texting while driving is illegal, and someone knows you're driving and keeps texting you, should they bear some of the responsibility if an accident occurs?
Source: The New York Post
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Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.
She texts him and she should expect HIM to stop and read it. End of story.
Whereas you are required to answer a phone call?
It is stupid, regardless of whether she sent a text, called him, or waved to him from the top of a billboard.
What will the charge be?
Dangerous Driving by Proxy?????
So they want to make a woman responsible for sending a text message to another person makes the sender responsible for the actions of the recipient?
Aww come on, not on this planet would a court find the person guilty. Regardless of whether she knew the receiver of the text message was driving is irrelevant to the fact that the receiver of the text message chose to attempt to act on the receiving of the text message.
I receive text messages all the time, emails all the time, phone calls all the time, even when driving! If I make a decision to act in a way that endangers myself or other road users based on the alert noise then I AM RESPONSIBLE, not the sender, not the caller, not the other people driving around me.
What sort of craziness is going on in this world!
Sometimes you read something and you have to read it again because it is so unbelievable. If this was April I would have said, Nice April's Fools Joke, fooled me Rene, but it's not.
Four times I have had to read it again and each time it reads even more unbelievable that the time before!
It stops dead square on the Driver of the Motor Vehicle for CHOOSING to react to the alert for a TEXT MESSAGE and/or respond to it!
If she did expect a nearly immediate reply then she should be punished for her actions. The boys fine seems low compared to the seriousness of the consequences but I feel that that is an appropriate punishment for her as well. Making her responsible for the consequences seems harsh. Presumably the plaintiffs lawyers realise that they have a better chance of recovering some money from two 18 year old defendants than one.
Unfortunately the number of ways that you can be distracted is seemingly unlimited and I find it hard to believe that there is a technical solution. Making things idiot proof only creates better idiots. The only real solution seems to be early feedback on dangerous behaviour but that is itself difficult to accomplish. There is a great quote that I can't find anymore that basically says that every time we do something unsafe without consequence it reinforces our belief that what we are doing is correct.
As an aside I treat the "Baby Onboard" signs as an indication that the driver is not concentrating on the road but I don't think that couples should be prevented from having children in their cars.
Obviously, it relies upon you trusting your police officers and judges not to be totally dumb, insane, or criminal. Hrm, maybe that's why it wouldn't work in the USA.
One less waste of time in our lives.