Texting Someone Who Happens to Be Behind the Wheel Isn't a Crime

man texting behind the wheelI'm sure we can all agree that drivers who text or read their incoming texts have no excuse for the trouble they could potentially -- and often do -- cause on the road. But what about people who are knowingly texting someone who is currently behind the wheel? Are they to blame?

This is the question a New Jersey court was grappling with recently when a woman was sued for texting a driver who then caused an accident. David and Linda Kubert ended up aamputees after Shannon Colonna texted Kyle Best, who happened to be driving at the time. The Kuberts said that Colonna knew or should have known that Best was driving, and therefore, they claimed she was "virtually present" and liable for aiding and abetting Best's negligence.

Although this sounds like a horrendous accident, and the Kuberts have every right to be enraged, blaming Colonna seems like a bit of a stretch. Seems like the judge felt that way at least.


The New Jersey judge on the case ruled that Colonna was not liable for the accident. He said it is the driver's responsibility to pay attention to the road. Damn straight!

I can't imagine what kind of convoluted nightmares we might be facing in court if people who "knew or should have known" not to text someone who was driving started getting charged for accidents like this one. On the contrary, accidents like this are always the driver's fault.

That said, I do feel like people who are not behind the wheel themselves do have a responsibility to abstain from texting or calling if they actually do know that the person they're communicating with is driving.

More from The Stir: New Cars That Read Texts Out Loud Could Save Your Life

I have friends who have the hands-free set-up in their cars and prefer to call me from the road. I've told them in the past that I'm not super comfortable with it, because I really feel like -- even if you are hands-free -- talking can be a major distraction from the task at hand. So, I admit, I've often waited to call and chat until that person has arrived at their destination. Similarly, if I know my fiance is stuck in heavy traffic after work, I usually won't text unless it's absolutely necessary.

All the same, even when the texting or calling person knows the score, it's absolutely the driver's choice to peek at their phone, tap out a response, or pick up a call. I seriously can't believe that this case made it as far as it did, but thank goodness that, in the end, the judgment made perfect sense.

Do you agree with the ruling? Have you ever texted someone you knew was driving?


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