Texting Someone While He or She Is Driving – Will It Cost You?

In 2011, 387,000 people were injured in road accidents involving a distracted driver. Of all activities that can distract a driver, texting is considered the most dangerous because it takes not only your hands and eyes off driving, but also your mind. Texting while driving is illegal in 38 states. But can you get in trouble if you text a driver knowing that he or she is driving? You can. It happened in New Jersey in 2009.

What Happened in New Jersey

Kyle Best, aged 18, got into a car accident while texting his sweetheart Shannon Colonna. His pick-up truck drifted into opposing traffic and crashed into David and Linda Kubert, who were cruising on their touring motorcycle, at the wrong place and wrong time. Seventeen seconds after Best sent his last text message, he called 911. The Kuberts both lost their left legs.

The Kuberts sued Best, who admitted he was guilty of distracted driving – there was no doubt that his texting had caused the accident. But what happened next was interesting. The Kuberts also sued Colonna, because in their opinion, she and Best were ‘having a verbal conversation through texting,’ and although she was not physically present in the car, she was electronically so. Best and Colonna had exchanged 62 text message that day, according to court documents. (She claimed in court that she was sending about 100 text messages a day.)

Three appeals court judges agreed with the Kuberts’ argument and ruled that if the sender of text messages knows that the recipient is texting while driving, a court may hold the sender responsible for causing the distracted driving, but they stressed that the sender had to know that the driver was behind the wheels.

Her lawyer, on the other hand, drew attention to the fact that the sender has the right to assume the recipient will read the message at a safe time, placing the responsibility with the driver.

Whether Colonna knew or not that Best was driving while texting was not possible to prove. Eventually the court cleared Colonna because she did not have a duty of care and was thus not responsible of negligence.

What this case did was draw attention to the fact that there are dangers to texting someone when you know that he or she is driving, and that you can get sued for it. Judges won’t dismiss such cases out of hand. On the contrary, they will try to establish whether or not you knew. If you did, you can be in serious trouble.

The Fight Against Distracted Driving

New Jersey is one of the states that have taken a firm stand against texting while driving, making laws that treat it on the same level with drunken driving. Distracted driving is a crime and when an accident happens, it can put the driver behind bars for up to 10 years, as well as force him or her to pay fines of up to $150,000 for bodily injury.

The conclusion? Don’t text while driving. And just to be sure, don’t send a text message or give a call to someone you know is driving. Else you might end up in court.


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Comments 7 comments

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

Texting and driving is deadly, and those who are responsible do not always bear the consequences associated with it legally. I think laws are becoming stricter, however. Several years ago, when my sister was pregnant, she was standing outside of her parked car, leaning into the car as her toddler was inside the vehicle. They were at a public park, and she was helping the toddler out of his safety booster seat. A young woman who was texting and driving hit their car and my sister delivered a stillborn baby days later.

Better Yourself profile image

Better Yourself 2 years ago from North Carolina Author

FlourishAnyway - I cannot imagine how hard that must have been for your sister and your family. Her story is heart breaking and a true testament of how dangerous texting while driving really is. I see people texting while driving all the time, and it's extremely upsetting. Thank You for sharing, and hopefully people will see it and be inspired to take this issue more seriously and encourage others to do the same.

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 2 years ago

I see people at stoplights texting, guess that is better than driving and texting; but, they still do not pay attention to the lights. Once, the person accidently moved forward and hit the car in front. Ouch! Great article and hope it gets the attention of those who need to heed the warning.

Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

This is so dangerous! I see it all up and down the interstate and in town on my daily commute to and from work during the week. Important article that I hope a lot read!

Up and more and sharing

Hugs, Faith Reaper

Better Yourself profile image

Better Yourself 2 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thanks teaches12345! I see texting and driving almost daily, whether at a stoplight or while moving. Just this morning a woman on the highway was having a hard time staying in her lane, came close to hitting a car beside her. As we tried to pass to get away from her we realized she was texting! Made me so upset for her disregard of safety and putting others at risk!

Better Yourself profile image

Better Yourself 2 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thanks so much Faith! As you'll see from my previous comment I just witnessed texting and driving this morning on the highway almost creating a collision. It seems every time I get in my car I see it, and it's so sad that people aren't taking it more seriously. Thanks for helping get the word out!

janesix profile image

janesix 2 years ago

I really hate when people do that.

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