A New Twist on Texting & Driving

Not a day goes by that I do not see a person texting and driving. Florida has not yet outlawed this negligent behavior, but it seems that a law is on the horizon. A record case in New Jersey has taken texting and driving to the next level. A young man was texting and driving and collided with two people on a motorcycle. Both the motorcycle driver and the passenger each lost a leg. The negligent driver’s insurance company tendered its policy limits; however, the injured parties also sued the person texting the driver for aiding and abetting the negligent driver.

The attorneys for the injured party argued that the appellate court should create or impose a “duty of care” for individuals who send text messages to people who are driving. What is duty of care? Think of it as a duty owed to protect others. The driver of a vehicle has a duty to drive in a safe manner. A person sending text messages to the driver of a vehicle either knows or should know that the driver would be texting while driving. At this time the law does not impose a duty on the sender.

The attorneys for the sender of the text messages argued that the attempt to create a duty of care was a stretch. A sender cannot control what happens after a text is sent or know when it will be read. I believe there are several reasons why this case has come this far. First, texting and driving is a hot issue. Second, the injuries sustained by the innocent motorcycle riders were extreme. Third, if this case imposes a duty of action on the sender, more lives can be saved.

This is an issue of personal responsibility. If you want to text and drive in Florida, it is not illegal to do so yet; however, you must accept responsibility for your actions. You have a choice. You can turn off the smartphone while you drive. Alternatively, you can ask a passenger to review your message and respond—or you can pull over periodically to check messages.

If you are sending texts to someone you know is driving—think about the innocent motorcycle rider who lost a leg—and refrain!