New Jersey bill would protect text sender from crash liability

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Friday, September 06, 2013

A New Jersey state lawmaker wants to keep any consequences from texting while driving solely the responsibility of the person behind the wheel.

Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, R-Monmouth, is preparing a bill that would protect senders of text messages from any potential legal issues if the recipient is involved in a wreck.

A New Jersey appeals court ruling last week said “when a texter knows or has special reason to know that the intended recipient is driving and is likely to read the text message while driving, the texter has a duty to users of the public roads to refrain from sending the driver a text at that time.”

Casagrande says that accountability for distracted driving rests squarely with the driver.

“It is illogical to expect that a text sender can reasonably determine if the recipient is both driving and will read the text immediately. That is an impractical standard,” Casagrande said in a news release. “Apparently, protections have to be in place from liability for a person merely sending an electronic communication. You have to wonder when the insanity is going to stop.”

Casagrande is expected to introduce the bill as early as next week. If approved by lawmakers, the bill would likely be signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie. He called the recent court decision “silly.”

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