Is it illegal to knowingly text a driver?
Knowingly Text A Driver
The New Jersey state of appeals has raised a lot of questions regarding whether you can be held liable if you knowingly texted a driver who caused a crash. Will we now hear “Don’t knowingly text a driver” along with the “Don’t text and drive” message?
Shannon Colonna was texting her boyfriend Kyle Best as he was driving down a rural highway in New Jersey in 2009. Kyle was only 18 years old and Shannon was just 17. Kyle’s phone records show that only 17 seconds after he sent a text, he was calling a 911 operator. His pickup truck had drifted across the double center line and hit a touring motorcycle with David Kubert and his wife Linda. It was a pretty horrible accident which left both of the Kuberts without their legs.
The Kuberts not only sued Best, but they also sued Colonna since they felt she was also responsible in distracting Best. They ended up setttling with Best, but lost against Colonna and appealed the decision.
Colonna was not found liable considering that she habitually texted over 100 text a day and had no idea whether the recipients of her text were driving or not. Colonna and Best had exchanged over 62 text messages that day, and because she had no idea that at the time Best was driving she was not found responsible. However the court ruled that the sender of a text message can potentially be liable if they have special knowledge that the person they are texting is driving.
The courts response spurred quite a bit of unrest in people all across the country. People are asking why the driver isn’t responsible for whether they read the message or not. If someone is seriously liable for texting someone who is driving than someone talking in the car could be held liable for being a distraction to the driver.
Although it is not yet illegal to text someone who is driving, a new law could be passed as a result of this court’s decision. The ‘Kyle Best’ way of doing things may not necessarily be best. Keep your phone out of reach when you are driving and simply don’t text someone if you know for sure they are driving.