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Note To: Self, My Family, My Friends and My Co-Workers

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By: Shawn S. Kasserman

We all know (or should know) not to text and drive. But, have you thought about the dangers of knowingly texting a driver? An Appeals Court in New Jersey has - and determined that you could be liable if your text causes that driver to injure someone.

In September of 2009, two teens texted each other (as they customarily did 62 times per day). Unfortunately, one of the texters was driving down a highway as he exchanged the digital messages. At the same time a motorcyclist and his passenger were approaching from the opposite direction. The texting driver drifted across the center line and hit the approaching motorcycle head on.

Seventeen seconds after his last text - the driver was calling 911 for assistance for the people on the motorcycle whose lives he had just forever changed.

Finding that both the driver (receiver of the text) and the sender of the text are potentially responsible for the crash, a New Jersey Court focused its attention on whether the nondriving texter knew or should have known that the recipient is driving and  would be distracted by the text. Ultimately the court found that the “remote texter” had no reason to know her recipient was driving and thus shared no liability for the crash. However  the opposite could also be true: you will share in the responsibility for a crash where you knowingly distract a driver via text messages. Even worse, you will know that your actions contributed to ruining the life of an innocent victim.

Let’s be smart . . . don’t text and drive and just as importantly, don’t text someone you know to be driving.

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