It is no secret that texting and driving is distracting and dangerous. In fact, Pennsylvania laws specifically prohibit texting and driving. Drivers can and have been pulled over and ticketed for texting behind the wheel.
As positive as this move has been in terms of highlighting the risks of texting and driving, many people continue to engage in this behavior, putting people all across the state in harm's way. However, a case was filed in this state that could have the potential to change more people's minds about texting and driving.
The claim was filed by the family of a man who was killed in a motorcycle accident against the senders of text messages the driver may have been reading before the crash. It was filed last year, but it is still making its way through the system. Essentially, the argument is that the two people who were texting the driver share some of the liability for the crash.
A similar claim was filed in another state, where it was determined that the sender of a text can be liable for a crash, but only if he or she knew the recipient was driving and would read the text. It was also ruled that the sender must have some sort of control over the driver and/or be actively encouraging that person to get distracted.
These relationships and motivations will likely need to be established in the Pennsylvania case as well in order to prove that the text senders were liable.
It will be very interesting to see how the courts rule in this case. The fact that they have already ruled that the case against the senders can continue is a good sign, though. It means that it is at least feasible for a text sender to be legally accountable for a distracted driving crash.
We are certainly hopeful that this case and others like it continue to shine a light on the dangers of distracted driving. If more people can be held accountable for a crash, there may be a higher likelihood that at least one person engaged in a texting conversation will decide to stop and wait until it is safe to continue.