Sending a text message to someone who is driving could get you into a lot of trouble

It seems like every week we hear about a car accident caused by texting while driving. Attention is often brought to the driver who received the text messages, but what about the responsibility of the person who sent the text messages? Several judges in New Jersey have had to address the issue.

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Published on 2013/08/30

Four years ago, Kyle Best, 18, was driving on a country road when his girlfriend at the time, Shannon Colonna, 17, sent a text message. While reading the message, Best deviated from his lane and hit two motorcyclists head-on. Both victims were seriously injured and have each lost their legs in the accident.

Today, David and Linda Kubert, the motorcyclists injured in the crash, are suing in civil court Kyle Best and Shannon Colonna. According to the lawsuit, Ms. Colonna knew that her boyfriend was driving and is therefore partly responsible for the collision.

After investigation however, the prosecution has not been able to prove that Shannon Colonna was aware that her friend was driving his car when she sent text messages. She therefore has been found not guilty of a crime and not responsible in civil proceedings.

Nevertheless, several judges who presided over the case and the subsequent appeals said that in principle, the person sending the text messages is as much responsible for an accident as the person who receives them. Even New Jersey Governor Christ Christie said Mrs. Colonna should be held responsible for the collision.

There is no doubt that eventually other U.S. states and Canadian provinces will also have to address the issue of responsibility in such a situation.