Judge Could Make It Illegal To Text A Driver
Michael Harper for RedOrbit.com
We’re at the point in our society where texting while driving is commonly understood to be more than dangerous, it can be outright deadly. In the same way smoking was discovered to be the root cause of a huge problem and then subsequently banned as tobacco makers were taken to task in our nation’s courtrooms, texting while driving has also spent its share of time being discussed in legal battles. Just like smoking, there have even been rather disturbing PSAs filmed and distributed to convince drivers to leave their phones alone while driving, such as this little gem from the UK.
Now, a New Jersey judge may take the matter one step further, making it illegal to knowingly send a text to someone who may be driving.
According to the Daily Record, David and Linda Kubert were hit head-on by a truck as they rode their motorcycle in a 2009 accident. The driver, Kyle Best, was texting with Shannon Colonna when his vehicle drifted into the Kuberts’ lane. Best later admitted in court to checking his cell phone to read a new, incoming text.
The Kuberts’ had part of their legs amputated as a result of Best’s texting, who was 19 years old at the time.
Charges were pressed against Best, who was sentenced to $775 in fines and community service.
Later, the Kuberts’ lawyer, “Skippy” Weinstein decided to add Colonna to the lawsuit, saying she “may not have been physically present but she was electronically present.”
Weinstein wants to include Colonna because he says she knew Best was driving at the time and should have known better than to have sent him the text messages.
Of course, Best’s lawyer, Joseph McGlone, disagrees with Weinstein and says Colonna can’t be held responsible if she wasn’t at the scene of the accident.
“The sender of the text has the right to assume the recipient will read it at a safe time. It’s not fair. It’s not reasonable. Shannon Colonna has no way to control when Kyle Best is going to read that message.”
In a deposition, Colonna said at first she didn’t know Best was driving while the two were texting on the night of the accident, but later said she “may have known.” In Weinstein’s’ lawsuit discoveries, records reveal the two exchanged more than 2 dozen texts during the day. Weinstein argued that it should have been obvious to Colonna that Best was driving, as he had just resumed texting her after a 5-hour hiatus while he was at work.
Mr. Best said in the deposition that he had glanced down at his cell phone to see who had texted him right before the crash.
According to the phone records, Best had sent a text to Colonna at 5:48 pm as he was driving. She responded 31 seconds later, when Best glanced down at his phone and then sent a reply. Seconds later, Best placed a call to 911 to report the accident.
Should Morris County Superior Court Judge David Rand decide to uphold Weinstein’s request to press charges against Colonna, a new legal precedent would be set against senders of texts as well as the receivers.
Judge Rand is expected to make a ruling on the dismissal on May 25th.
Most states, including New Jersey, already have a ban against texting while driving, though it seems this has done little to quell the dangerous behavior. According to Consumer Reports, 30% of teens surveyed admitted to texting while behind the wheel.