Recently, three New Jersey judges ruled senders of text messages could be held liable if an accident ensues. The stipulation is only if the sender is aware the recipient is driving.
The ruling was based on a previous case in which a teenager texted her boyfriend while he was operating a vehicle. The boyfriend veered across the center line and hit a couple on a motorcycle head-on. He was distracted by the incoming text from his girlfriend when the accident occurred.
When I first read this, I thought it was a joke or at the very least, a mourning person desperately looking to internally justify a bad decision of a loved one. I was shocked to learn the text sender was indeed involved in the legal case. This is an actual ruling in the state of New Jersey.
Shifting personal responsibility to text senders
This specific ruling proves our society is moving further and further away from personal responsibility. Personal responsibility is being accountable for one’s own actions. It is not shifting the blame in whole or in part to another person for justification of one’s own bad decisions.
Any and all drivers are expected to take personal responsibility while operating a vehicle, which includes the decision to ignore an incoming text.
Drivers have a choice to answer a text or not. If they are tempted to answer an incoming text, the decision to remove the temptation is their responsibility, not the sender’s. It is their choice to ignore it, turn off the phone while driving or put lives in danger by texting back.
Ultimately, it is the driver’s responsibility to make a mature decision to not text and drive.
The girlfriend was acquitted as she was not aware her boyfriend was driving when she texted him.