In the world of technology, the blame game can be far-reaching. Sending the husband out for a gallon of milk? If you know your husband is driving and send him a text, his checking of said text can lead to an accident. Upon police reporting of the accident who sent the text is now coming under scrutiny. The state of New Jersey delivered a hefty consideration from three judges at the Appeals Court.
A couple sued an 18-year-old boy who was texting when driving, and hit them on their motorcycle. Also, called into the suit was the boy’s 17-year-old girlfriend. The accused girlfriend appeared in court and stated she did not know her beau was texting. Jurors agreed and the girlfriend was not charged, the two couples settled outside of court. The court did advise “We conclude that 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.”
This of course begins a taboo entrance of controversy. While the ruling did not implement a law, this opens a new world of reach for interpretation. New Jersey has amped up the penalties against drivers in the past year. If your texting creates an accident, you can face up to 10 years in prison with a $150,000 fine attached.
In addition, the state is currently reviewing a bill that would allow police officers to physically seize your phone after an accident to check for texts. One unlikely voice of reason came from Governor Chris Christie who stated the blame belongs solely to the drivers, “You have the obligation to keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel and pay attention to what you’re doing.”
Next comes the question “well how do I know they’re driving?!” This is of course open up a gray area, and one wonders what laws will be needed to create a new law of blame. New Jersey attorney Marc Saperstein stated individuals texting a driver could easily land in court. One argument made by a colleague of his stated, “when you text—you’re the texter—you are electronically in that car.” Is this an argument Americans are willing to consider or accept?
The FCC reported in 2010, distracted drivers resulted in over 3,000 people being killed. The report does not specifically point out to texting as the distraction, but the intent is made. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute did report to the FCC their findings uncovered 11-percent of young adults admitting to texting prior to a car accident.
Certainly, may cry out against the intent of law, and this becomes a double-edge sword of privacy versus safety. More and more people are acquiring phones in their hands; the advancement of the devices also have hands-free talking or talk to text, and these features should be a consideration for many customers. Once an accident has happened, seizing the phone of the drivers seems to be the biggest eyebrow raising comment. Under what level of jurisdiction will be given to law enforcement to take someone’s phone? Additionally, many citizens will be concerned about the handling of the information.
The concerns for many reside in privacy. There is nothing to hide in stating texting can wait. Honestly. Unless a medical emergency, drivers are behind the wheel of a machine that can kill themselves and others. Taking responsibility is necessary to avoid the government stepping in to manage the problem. Should someone texting a driver land them in court? The controversial levels will be high on this. Many can wonder if a medical emergency, such as a wife going into labor. Others wonder how else to stop the arguing couple who are texting in rapid secession to one another. The blame game is far-reaching, hopefully individuals will make the right decisions to avoid the government from their own level of far-reaching laws.