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NJ Court: Sending a Text Message To a Driver Could Make You Liable For Crash 628

Posted by Soulskill
from the pendulum-swinging-hard dept.
C0R1D4N writes "A New Jersey Appeals Court has ruled that both sides of a texting conversation which resulted in a car accident could be held liable. The ruling came as part of a case in which the driver of a truck received a text message shortly before striking a motorcycle carrying two passengers. The court ruled that while in this case, the person sending the text wasn't liable, they could be if the circumstances were a little different. '...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.'"
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NJ Court: Sending a Text Message To a Driver Could Make You Liable For Crash

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  • Idiocracy (Score:5, Funny)

    by shiftless (410350) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @02:46PM (#44698685) Homepage

    What if I place a phone call to someone I know, or "have a special reason to know", may be driving?

    Idiocracy was supposed to be a comedy, not a how to instruction manual.

    • Re:Idiocracy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DarkOx (621550) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @02:49PM (#44698713) Journal

      What if a radio DJ makes a shocking announcement and he knows or has special reason to know someone may be listing while driving?

      This one seems nutty to me; making anyone responsible for the safe operation of a car beyond the one operating it seems kinda foolish.

      • The radio station I listen to has kind of sort of begun to acknowledge people listen to morning radio mostly during commute. Instead of "call in at 555-5555 or text to #" it's now "call in at 555-555 or text if you're not moving to #"

        The end result is probably nothing more than the DJs feeling like they can sleep a little better at night.

      • Re:Idiocracy (Score:5, Insightful)

        by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @02:59PM (#44698843) Journal
        I think that the punchline is " if the texter knows, or has special reason to know, the recipient will view the text while driving."

        Merely sending a text message, or making a phone call, or being a talkative passenger, or something, is not a problem. Only doing so with knowledge (how this would be obtained is unclear, and the situation is hypothetical) that the driver will be distracted by your action is seen as problematic.

        It's irrelevant; because the hypothetical proposes a fairly stiff standard of evidence to meet (and would only kick in when both that standard is met and a text-reading driver does something unpleasant enough to get the courts involved); but it's actually not dissimilar from reasoning in other contexts:

        Bringing a delicious peanut butter sandwich to work for lunch is totally innocuous. Doing so with the full knowledge that Bob from Accounting is lethally allergic is...not. Few scenarios are as clear cut as 'prior knowledge of atypical and dangerous allergy'; but it's hardly unreasonable to expect that certain people will be specially vulnerable to certain agents, and that people who know that and expose them anyway should be treated as though they intended the consequences that they knew about, rather than the consequences that would have resulted for any random normal person.
        • Re:Idiocracy (Score:5, Interesting)

          by flayzernax (1060680) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @03:30PM (#44699293)

          Its the drivers duty to turn off their phone and ensure they are not distracted while driving. The responsibility falls on the drivers of the vehicles. If they cannot preform this duty. They should not be driving. We don't even need special rules or laws. Just hold people accountable for when they fuck up. Make it clear to everyone what will happen if you are not responsible.

          Suddenly people become more responsible.

          Also discourteous irresponsible people should get killed early in life.

        • Re:Idiocracy (Score:5, Insightful)

          by David_Hart (1184661) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @03:31PM (#44699307)

          Bringing a delicious peanut butter sandwich to work for lunch is totally innocuous. Doing so with the full knowledge that Bob from Accounting is lethally allergic is...not..

          What? Sorry, but this is just as nonsensical as the court ruling about knowingly texting someone while they are driving. This is about the continued abdication of personal responsibility. When you get behind the wheel of a car, anything you do is your responsibility.

          • Re:Idiocracy (Score:5, Insightful)

            by squiggleslash (241428) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @03:46PM (#44699479) Homepage Journal

            but this is just as nonsensical as the court ruling about knowingly texting someone while they are driving

            Well, if you put it like that, then yeah, the court's decision would be nonsensical. But the court didn't say that. The court said that you share responsibility if you have good reasons to believe the text receiver is not merely driving, but will read the text while driving.

            Which is commonsense. You don't get an out for something you initiate simply because the mechanism you're relying upon involves someone else being irresponsible. And the court's not making you solely responsible, but it isn't letting you off the hook either.

            This is about personal responsibility. Personal responsibility does not mean blaming one person for the actions of multiple people, it means each person involved stepping up to the plate and taking responsible for their part. If you're texting people knowing they're reading those texts while driving, then you're an irresponsible jerk. The driver's irresponsible too, but you know they're reading those messages, and you're sending the messages anyway. Don't pretend it's got nothing to do with you.

            • Re:Idiocracy (Score:5, Insightful)

              by jedidiah (1196) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @03:54PM (#44699551) Homepage

              > Well, if you put it like that, then yeah, the court's decision would be nonsensical. But the court didn't say that. The court said that you share responsibility if you have good reasons to believe the text receiver is not merely driving, but will read the text while driving.

              You repeating the nonsense doesn't make it any less moronic.

              The driver has free will. The driver as moral awareness. The driver is a legal adult. The driver is capable of being in control of himself and the situation.

              It's the driver's duty to not do dangerous stupid shit.

              You demean all of us when you try to strip people of moral responsibility for their actions. You turn us into something less than human.

              • It's the driver's duty to not do dangerous stupid shit.

                So, if I knowingly incite somebody to commit murder, I'm not to blame, right?

                No, that's called Accessory to Murder [wikipedia.org].

              • Re:Idiocracy (Score:5, Insightful)

                by bws111 (1216812) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @04:33PM (#44700007)

                It's all so nicely black and white, isn't it?

                The driver in this case was a truck driver, he probably worked for a trucking company. Now, suppose his boss had the habit of texting him 'urgent' information, and that continued employment depending on responding to/acting on those texts.

                The driver has free will

                . Yep, and his 'free will' choice is now 'ignore the text and lose my job, or look at the text and maybe be in an accident'. I'm guess that one of those outcomes is much more likely than the other - so much for his 'free will'.

                The driver has moral awareness

                Yep, and probably a big part of that awareness is his responsibility to provide for his family

                The driver is capable of being in control of the situation

                Which situation is he in control of? The employment situation, or the reading a text situation?

                Yes, the driver is responsible for his actions, and NOBODY has claimed otherwise. But what possible reason is there of stripping the bos of HIS moral responsibility for putting the driver in that position (of having to choose between keeping his job and looking at a text) in the first place? THAT is what the judge is getting at, and you have not provided any valid argument against it.

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by DarkOx (621550)

                  But what possible reason is there of stripping the bos of HIS moral responsibility for putting the driver in that position

                  Because when you try and make everyone responsible for everything the outcome is nobody is responsible for anything. The next level out is someone is going to suggest the telco can reasonably know if a phone is in a moving vehicle; so how come they failed to hold the messages until the phone was not observed to be traveling at rate a speed beyond a running human?

                  In your case I could argue the Boss has special reason to if not know at least think the trucker is going to be driving, after all its what he i

              • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

                > Well, if you put it like that, then yeah, the court's decision would be nonsensical. But the court didn't say that. The court said that you share responsibility if you have good reasons to believe the text receiver is not merely driving, but will read the text while driving.

                You repeating the nonsense doesn't make it any less moronic.

                The driver has free will. The driver as moral awareness. The driver is a legal adult. The driver is capable of being in control of himself and the situation.

                It's the driver's duty to not do dangerous stupid shit.

                You demean all of us when you try to strip people of moral responsibility for their actions. You turn us into something less than human.

                Everything you say about the driver applies to you, too. If you know that the other person is driving a car then why are you continuing to text them? Yes, you could send them a text that says, when you get home, call (or whatever), but the moment they respond and you respond back, you are now a willing participant in their distraction.

                I don't view this a stripping people of moral responsibility, but just the opposite. Just like you shouldn't text and drive, if you know somebody is driving, don't text them

                • Re:Idiocracy (Score:5, Insightful)

                  by dyingtolive (1393037) <brad DOT arnett AT notforhire DOT org> on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @05:26PM (#44700707)

                  It is illegal for a 16 year old to drink, but nobody would argue that offering one a beer doesn't make you liable because the 16 year old has free will and could refuse the beer. Likewise, the court is saying doing something you know is wrong makes you liable.

                  I dislike this example. How about this:

                  It is illegal for a person (call him Fred) to drink while driving, but nobody would argue that giving Fred (who is over 21) sealed beer to take home with him with the intent of him drinking them later, and then Fred choosing to drink the beer while in the car on the way makes you liable.

                  It's almost a perfect analogy of the original scenario, and it shows how this DOES in fact, strip the actual person responsible of their moral responsibility. If only we could just bubble wrap every surface so thickly that no one ever gets hurt, ever.

            • Re:Idiocracy (Score:4, Insightful)

              by David_Hart (1184661) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @04:22PM (#44699883)

              but this is just as nonsensical as the court ruling about knowingly texting someone while they are driving

              Well, if you put it like that, then yeah, the court's decision would be nonsensical. But the court didn't say that. The court said that you share responsibility if you have good reasons to believe the text receiver is not merely driving, but will read the text while driving.

              Which is commonsense. You don't get an out for something you initiate simply because the mechanism you're relying upon involves someone else being irresponsible. And the court's not making you solely responsible, but it isn't letting you off the hook either.... If you're texting people knowing they're reading those texts while driving, then you're an irresponsible jerk. The driver's irresponsible too, but you know they're reading those messages, and you're sending the messages anyway. Don't pretend it's got nothing to do with you.

              No... it's still utter nonsense. No matter what a texter does, they cannot force you to pick up the phone.

              It's like saying that a cute girl is responsible for your bad driving because she is walking down the road in the summer wearing shorts and a bikini top looking hot. Based on the logic above, she would hold some responsibility simply because she knows that guys would be driving down the road looking at her, causing accidents.

              No one in their right mind would hold the girl responsible, in whole or in part, for your actions or any accidents caused by your actions. The same applies to people texting you. No one in their right mind would expect you to reply to their texts while driving, even if they knew that you were. They would expect you to find a safe place to pull over. It's your responsibility to drive safely and no one can force you to text back while driving....

          • Everything you do is your responsibility.

            FTFY.

        • Re:Idiocracy (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Luthair (847766) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @03:35PM (#44699345)

          Most people consider text messaging to be asynchronous communication to be responded to when the receiver is able. The only occasion I can think of where the sender ought to be liable is if they were the driver's employer and required the driver to respond quickly.

          • by vux984 (928602)

            Most people consider text messaging to be asynchronous communication to be responded to when the receiver is able.

            Says someone who has never seen how people actually obsessively compulsively read texts during dinner, at movies, while driving, or using a toilet.

            Not saying you are wrong on it being technically asynchronous, or about where the liability is. I think you are right.

            But most people I see out in the world treat texting as 'talking on the phone without dialing'. And with texting systems like BBM whe

        • That's a awful sense of logic.

          If i want to bring a peanut butter sandwich to work with full knowledge that Bob from accounting is allergic, the only reasonable action i must take is to make sure that I don't purposely expose Bob my delicious sandwich. If i get into an argument with Bob and be punches me in the face and steals my lunch and proceeds to wolf it down in front of me, i am not responsible for his actions.

          There has to be a cut off where personal responsibility takes over.

          If someone is driving and

    • by Teresita (982888)
      Make it illegal to send a text if you know the recipient is driving. Now you gotta prove to a court of law that the sender knew. But it's easy to prove the driver was texting by checking phone records. But no, we don't want to do that, because it would imply making it illegal to text while driving.
      • Make it illegal to send a text if you know the recipient is driving. Now you gotta prove to a court of law that the sender knew. But it's easy to prove the driver was texting by checking phone records. But no, we don't want to do that, because it would imply making it illegal to text while driving.

        Many places have already made it illegal to text while driving. They are just existing the liability to the other party of the conversation when that party has knowingly participated in the illegal texting, at the very least as an accessory to the crime itself.

        • Re:Idiocracy (Score:4, Insightful)

          by meerling (1487879) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @03:04PM (#44698919)
          Despite the fact that the sender has no real way of knowing if the recipient is operating a vehicle unless they are in the vehicle with them, and on top of that, the text is a non-time sensitive communication like a physical letter. The only reason to read it the moment you get it is because you want to, otherwise you just wait until it's convenient, nobody is in any way forcing you to read it now.

          As to the morons in NJ, they said "...know, the recipient will view the text while driving". I guess the statement of "I didn't know he/she was stupid enough to text while driving." suddenly becomes a valid defense.
        • by hawguy (1600213)

          Make it illegal to send a text if you know the recipient is driving. Now you gotta prove to a court of law that the sender knew. But it's easy to prove the driver was texting by checking phone records. But no, we don't want to do that, because it would imply making it illegal to text while driving.

          Many places have already made it illegal to text while driving. They are just existing the liability to the other party of the conversation when that party has knowingly participated in the illegal texting, at the very least as an accessory to the crime itself.

          Just because I send someone a text message doesn't mean that I'm forcing them to read it while driving. I'll often text my wife when I know she's driving home because I want to send it to her before *I* start driving. Something like "Hey sweetie, after your aerobics class can you pick up milk at the store?" or "I'm going to the gym after work so I'll be home late, go ahead and eat dinner without me".

          I don't need or expect her to read the SMS's while she's driving, so why should I be responsible if she does?

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        Its tricky to know somebody's driving when you send a text.

        OTOH if you call somebody who's driving you can hear the car, etc., you can usually tell if they're driving or not. Making it illegal not to hang up if you know somebody is driving would make more sense.

        • Re:Idiocracy (Score:5, Interesting)

          by fuzznutz (789413) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @04:22PM (#44699871)

          Making it illegal not to hang up if you know somebody is driving would make more sense.

          No it wouldn't. You fall into the same logic trap as the Jersey judge thinking that more laws/liability will fix human behavior that we don't like. It's already illegal to text and drive in my state, and every day I see at least 3 drivers on my four mile work commute doing it. Every other driver is talking on the phone at 5:00 during their drive home.

          Does anybody seriously think the answer to all life's problems is more laws? Must we always advocate yet another statute on the books every time we see something we don't agree with or don't like? Maybe we need to just grow up and realize we are never going to live in a perfect world where nothing bad happens.

          The law and order crowd is turning our world into a police state.

      • Re:Idiocracy (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SJHillman (1966756) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @03:01PM (#44698871)

        One issue I have with text records is that my phone will keep trying to send the message until it gets signal. So I can type and hit Send while still in a convenience store, but it might not actually send until I'm 30 miles down the road to an area with better reception. I would presume that records would show when it was actually sent, not when it was typed out. Given that most areas of the country have spotty reception due to even small topographic features or because people use Sprint, it's a less unlikely scenario than it might seem.

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      To be fair there is gonna be plenty of times when you are gonna "have a special reason to know" the person you are texting is driving. For example the drummer for my band has a day job which involves driving a long distance to work so i know not to call him for at least 2 hours after his shift ends otherwise he is likely to get my call during his commute so by this ruling if I ignored the fact that I know what hours he works I would be at least partially responsible.

      So while the courts have had a LOT of b

    • I think the interesting question is what do they expect to do if one of the persons (i.e either the texter or textee) is in a state where texting while driving is accepted? Will I still be fined for sending a text to Bob who I know is driving, but he's in a state where it is legal to text while driving? And what if I send text to Bob who is driving in NJ, but I'm in a state where it is legal? Will they turn it into a federal case based on some perverted interpretation of interstate commerce?
  • by studpuppy (624228) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @02:48PM (#44698697)
    Would seem that any action that distracts a driver would then be fair game. Called someone you know on their mobile phone? Even the simple act of them having to reach for the phone, or put their bluetooth headset one, or (heck) even press the answer button on their in-dash system could be argued by a lawyer to have caused a distraction. And what's next? Can I be liable simply for waiving at someone from the sidewalk? After all, they may have to turn their head to see who it was that was waiving, and next thing you know.... BLAM! sigh. I sure do love living in NJ at times.
    • It does seem like we're trying to shift the blame. The driver does not have to read the text or answer the phone. In fact, the driver can easily disable the wireless on their phone while driving or take other steps so that they won't even know someone is trying to reach them. Plenty of people can argue that they NEED to know if someone is calling them, but let's be realistic: of all of the drivers on the road with cell phones, how many actually NEED to know about a text/call the very moment it happens? A ma

      • While I disagree that this is that big a deal, especially in light of the evidence that the people who get in accidents with cell phones get in just as many accidents without them (gee what is the common link there?) which seriously makes me think that the whole issue is a matter of not recognizing the inherent self-selection in accident statistics than anything.....

        aside from that, this is essentially the same argument I used to make when people would be concerned about me occasionally turning off the ringer on my phone or leaving it somewhere so as not to bother me.

        Mom: "What if there was an emergency and your grandmother got hurt?"
        Me: "Then you should call the hospital, I am not an ambulance, and have no medical training; I likely can't help."

        As if me not knowing the very moment someone died or was seriously injured was somehow important. Yes I may only find out hours later. Yes I may miss the opportunity to see them alive one more time.... no I don' lose any sleep over it.

    • by ZombieBraintrust (1685608) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @03:04PM (#44698917)
      It would apply. If your running a trucking company then you will have procedures for calling your truckers. If those procedures don't involve hands free equipment then the trucking company would be liable. The judge just left wiggle room so a different judge can use common sense.
    • by Jmc23 (2353706)
      Do you have reading comprehension problems? It's about whether the person knew the recipient was in an unsafe environment.

      Let's say you see your friend crossing the street and a big mac truck bearing down on her. If you holler her name from her 5, forcing her to stop and turn her view away from danger and towards you, then yes, you're an idiot and should be blamed.

      I know it's hard for a lot of the whiny babies to understand, but eventually we all have to accept responsability for everything we've played a

    • Would seem that any action that distracts a driver would then be fair game.

      Yes. If and only if, your actions were negligent (or worse) in doing so. Negligence requires that your actions be a proximate cause of the harm and that the results be reasonably foreseeable.

      In the hypothetical laid out by the judge, if you knew the person (a) was a driving AND (b) had a propensity to recklessly respond to messages, then you in fact would bear some responsibility for calling someone with those properties in spite of the known risk in doing so. That is, unless the cost of not contacting t

  • by TheNastyInThePasty (2382648) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @02:49PM (#44698705)
    The whole point of text messages is to allow for asynchronous communications with someone. Texting someone while they're driving is one of the best times to do it because it means they can get back to you whenever they're done. It's the driver's fault completely for looking at the text. Could you blame Facebook for pushing an update to your phone while you're driving if you looked at it and crashed?
    • I was going to post something similar to what you wrote, then I thought about it further.

      Say you're not only texting someone, but you're actively engaged in a bidirectional conversation over SMS, whilst knowing they are driving. E.g. recipient responds to you "I'm driving right now, but what do you need?". If you text them back, then you a) Know they're driving and reading/responding to SMSs, b) Choosing to exacerbate this situation you know is illegal and dangerous.

      I fully agree that SMS by design doesn't

    • by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @03:04PM (#44698923)

      '...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 someone while they're driving is one of the best times to do it because it means they can get back to you whenever they're done. It's the driver's fault completely for looking at the text.

      The law doesn't look at this that way, and the judge is basing his opinion squarely within long-standing legal precident. However you want to classify the behavior, the judge still has a strongly defensible position, legally.

      Let's say that you're robbing a store after hours and you know your friend brought a gun. You didn't though, for whatever reason. During the robbery, a security guard shows up. He shoots at you and your friend -- your friend shoots back, killing the guard. You are liable for his death. Yet you weren't armed and in fact, were only shot at. The courts reason that because you had knowledge of the gun ahead of time, you could reasonably foresee its use, and by not stopping your friend you were complicit in allowing it to happen. Say hello to thirty years. Look up felony manslaughter for a more detailed description. Your mere knowledge of that gun is what turned simple robbery into felony manslaughter. If you hadn't known, you wouldn't be ordinarily liable in most jurisdictions.

      The law is quite clear on this point: If you have knowledge of illegal activity, regardless of your own intent, etc. and fail to act you're just as guilty as the person who did it. In fact, if the other person has diminished capacity, or extenuating circumstances, you could even face a harsher penalty than they will -- simply by knowing what's going on! You weren't involved at all, but you're the one heading to the slammer.

      Yes, this is "just" a cell phone, but legally, it's no different than it being "just" a beer. If you let someone drive home drunk, and they kill someone, there's some guys in blue uniforms outside that want to talk to you. This judge is saying a cell phone is no different, as a legal instrument.

      And he's right.

      • by s.petry (762400)

        Your example is absolutely wrong.

        An example that would fit is that you know your friend bought a gun legally. That is the end of your knowledge. Suddenly the Police show up because your friend committed armed robbery. You were implicated because you had knowledge of the gun, and no knowledge of the crime.

        An even better example would be this. You know your friend bought a motorcycle. The police show up and arrest you because your friend committed vehicular homicide.

        There is a huge difference between kno

    • Other scenarios that are no more stupid than texting-a-driver-is-illegal.
      1) A text makes someone not pull out on time. The texter now owes child support.
      2) A text causes someone to forget to clarify no mayo on their double bacon burger. The texter must now pay for liposuction.
      3) A text distracts someone from their last minute bid on eBay. Texter must now provide that limited edition, gold plated John Lennon semen.
      4) A text distracts an AC for precious seconds, making their First Post the fifth or sixth one

  • by TechyImmigrant (175943) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @02:49PM (#44698707) Journal

    You send a text because you know someone is driving, so they can pick it up later rather than answering a voice call.

    • by C0R1D4N (970153)
      A bit more info, our state supreme court is pretty awful and was one of the major issues in our 09 gubernatorial debate. Not that anything much was actually done about it. The idea though is if one of the texts is "I am driving" and you keep replying you are liable. It is still an awful ruling but at least they dont expect you to have ESP
    • You send a text because you know someone is driving, so they can pick it up later rather than answering a voice call.

      It's probably more for when the driver responds and the sender responds back in those situations. Thereby they know the driver is actually driving and continued the texting.

    • Teenage girls who freak out if a boy doesn't reply in 20 seconds aside, of course.

    • by mark-t (151149)
      actually, I prefer getting voice calls while driving to text messages, because I can't respond to the latter while driving, while my car has bluetooth, so I can answer an incoming call effectively hands-free with just a single button press, which is located on the steering column.
  • There will likely never be a situation where the non-driving texter can be held responsible. Burden of proof will always be on the plaintiff, and proving that the non-driver knew that the driver would read his or her texts while driving will almost always be a legal impossibility. And, in that case, this makes about as much sense as holding a passenger in the car liable if they were being purposefully distracting or disruptive (IMO: perfectly valid).
    • There will likely never be a situation where the non-driving texter can be held responsible. Burden of proof will always be on the plaintiff, and proving that the non-driver knew that the driver would read his or her texts while driving will almost always be a legal impossibility. And, in that case, this makes about as much sense as holding a passenger in the car liable if they were being purposefully distracting or disruptive (IMO: perfectly valid).

      I would think companies may be the most at risk for being held liable. Not that is anything new since they usually are liable for employee actions while working anyway. IANAL, but I see this could mean that if they text someone going home from work and they get into an accident they may be held liable; or even if tehy have written policies against texting while driving if they send a text they could not point to the policy as a possible defense. I would imagine it would be harder to hold a family member or

    • There will likely never be a situation where the non-driving texter can be held responsible. Burden of proof will always be on the plaintiff, and proving that the non-driver knew that the driver would read his or her texts while driving will almost always be a legal impossibility. And, in that case, this makes about as much sense as holding a passenger in the car liable if they were being purposefully distracting or disruptive (IMO: perfectly valid).

      I think it's a stupid law, but that's just not true. There have been lots of times I got a text message while driving, replied "sry drvn" at a red light, and then got several more messages in the next 60 seconds from the same person. I don't think I've EVER had someone text me while I was behind the wheel and NOT replied with that string, honestly... perhaps a few times when I was having a dialog trying to figure out where someone was, but in that case, the fact that I'm driving is obvious to the other pa

  • Telepathy (Score:5, Funny)

    by Freshly Exhumed (105597) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @02:49PM (#44698715) Homepage

    Thank goodness that our telepathic abilities are so capable that we can all tell from any distance that the other person is driving.

  • Unlike a phone call, a text message has the expectation to be read when the receiver chooses. I send text messages to people I know are driving so the message is there when they stop.

  • No wonder everybody hates New Jersey.
    • No wonder everybody hates New Jersey.

      Oh, stop exaggerating; everyone does not hate New Jersey.

      I, for one, love the incessant comic relief they provide the rest of the nation (save, perhaps, Florida).

  • by mjr167 (2477430)
    It's clearly not the fault of the driver for answering the text while driving... Isn't the point of text messaging that you can send it and they can read when convinenent?
  • Seriously? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Murdoch5 (1563847) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @02:53PM (#44698767)
    That is one of the worst ideas I've ever heard. It's up to the driver to not check his or her phone well driving, thats it. It doesn't matter if people are texting you, calling you or even trying to IM you, just don't pick up the phone. This is another example of the pass the buck system of law making. Lets not make any one person responsible for being irresponsible and immature, lets make everyone deal with the fact no one has grown up.
  • Wouldn't this same logic apply to the thousands of roadside bulletin boards (advertisements) along New Jersey roadways? Some of which are getting extremely out of hand and distracting with full color animated displays...
    • by Whorhay (1319089)

      This is exactly what I was thinking of.

      There are always distractions when you are driving. It is up to each driver to focus on the task of driving their vehicle. If the driver decides to prioritize something else like answering a phone, texting, reading a book, watching a movie, adjusting the stereo, or any one of another million possibilities it is up to them to do so in a safe manner.

  • By this logic, you could also be held responsible for an accident after emailing, tweeting or mentioning someone in a Facebook status while they're driving. Come to think of it, phoning someone while they're driving (even if they have handsfree) could be construed as deliberate distraction, as could texting a passenger with important news that might interest the driver. This is bonkers; you can't control how and when someone else uses their phone, nor should you be responsible for their poor choices while
  • For this to happen, we would need to change our whole judicial view point which requires intent (mens rea). Either that, or negligence needs to become so broad that everyone is a criminal all the time. Negligence requires a common sense factor that you knew ahead of time that something could happen. Yelling "Fire" is a great example of the application in a sane system. Unfortunately we have not been sane for quite some time.

    Oh, and I guess FCC emergency broadcasts that hit your phone like the recent CA

  • April 1st (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @03:01PM (#44698885) Homepage Journal

    Is it just me, or are things getting to the point where nary a day goes by without some headline causing us to check and make sure it's not April Fool's?

    I swear, I've never seen policies as ridiculous as what's coming out nowadays. Even Caligula would balk at some of this shite.

  • I use textsecure on my phone, and I have now and will continue to maintain that texting CAN be done safely while driving, and that most of the problem with it is based on strawman arguments based on how long a person COULD spend or how long average people spend staring at the phone rather than watching the road.

    In no way, of course, would I say that all drivers who text do so safely or even that the majority do, just that nobody has yet shown that it has to be unsafe, or even that it is a significant issue

  • by c0d3g33k (102699) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @03:03PM (#44698909)

    Driver: "Yo, dude, I'm headed your way. In my car. Driving it myself. Alone. Tell me where you're at so I can pick you up".
    Non-driver: I'd better not send a response since I know my friend is driving and sending a text might be a distraction.

    Driver sends multiple texts to non-driver:

    Driver: "C'mon man, answer me!"
    Driver: "Why don't you ANSWER!!!?"
    Driver: "WTF!!!! I will spam u with texts until you tell me where you are!!!".
    Driver: "U R M8king me crzy!!! Answer!!!".
    Driver: Runs over child at school crossing

    Lawyer to non-driver: "Why didn't you respond? You clearly knew Driver would continue to text while driving until you responded. If only you had responded, the driver would have put down the phone and driven safely to your location. You are responsible for the accident because you did not take sufficient measures to ensure the driver would stop texting!"

    Non-driver: "FML."

  • by chocho99 (552877) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @03:04PM (#44698931)
    ...why not make the phone companies liable for transmitting the text to you while you are in a moving car. It's not like they don't already know where you are at all times.
  • So if I send a text saying

    "Call me when you get to [destination]" or "Call me when you're not driving"

    what's my liability there?

  • Simple Math (Score:3, Insightful)

    by imatter (2749965) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @03:06PM (#44698961)
    The more people that are liable the more lawyers you need to defend them.
  • If I'm going to do the time, might as well do the crime...

    If my text messages sent to a driver may cause me to be liable for the crash, then I guess I'll just have to hack the car's Android API and drive it remotely while they answer my text messages.

  • by Nadaka (224565) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @03:13PM (#44699061)

    In other news, traffic reporters held liable for distracting drivers on busy roads.

  • Hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anarchduke (1551707) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @03:37PM (#44699367)
    Does this mean I won't be receiving Amber Alert messages on my cellphone anymore? Because they are sending it to all cellphones, they know for certain some people will receive the text while driving.

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