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Tech Friday, August 30th 2013 at 2:23 pm

Now If You Text Someone Who’s Driving in NJ, You Could Be Held Liable If They Crash

Jersey strong! And easily distracted!

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Everybody knows you shouldn’t text while you’re driving. But what if you text while somebody else is driving? According to an appeals court in New Jersey, if you text somebody and they get in a car accident, it’s legally your fault. You know, because you’re not going to be putting enough blame on yourself if your friend gets in a car crash over a dumb text you send.

The ruling was put forward in response to a 2009 case filed by a couple who were hit with a distracted teenager while on their motorcycle. After a successful civil lawsuit against the teen, they then decided to file charges against the person who was texting him in the first place. For some reason the appeals court didn’t think that was an incredibly dumb idea and wrote the following:

if the sender knows that the recipient is both driving and will read the text immediately, then the sender has taken a foreseeable risk in sending a text at that time. The sender has knowingly engaged in distracting conduct, and it is not unfair also to hold the sender responsible for the distraction.

Yeah, but how do you prove prior knowledge, appeals court? I don’t have a magic clock a la the Weasley Family that tells me when everyone I would want to talk to is currently in transit. You know what I do when I want to find out if someone’s available to talk to me? I text them. And then if I don’t hear back, that’s when I assume that they’re busy.

Chris Christie agrees with me here — and as somebody who grew up in New Jersey and who’s got a lot of teachers in the family, it always weirds me out when I agree with the governor on something. Anyway, he called the ruling “stupid” (would you have expected any less?) and maintained that the responsibility should really fall on the driver to decide whether or not answering the text is worth risking injury or death.

Maybe the appeals court is just trying to get us to all stop texting each other completely, which I can almost understand. Typing makes it real hard to gesticulate wildly in the air, which is the customary way that we New Jerseyans communicate with one another. Also, our phone screens get greasy from all the pizza and boardwalk funnel cake we eat. You know what? Let’s do away with phones altogether and stick to shouting at each other at an inappropriate volume across crowded areas. I miss the old days, guys.

(via Mediaite, image via Bobby Hidy)

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