There is a news story today about a Jersey girl who texted her boyfriend while he was driving. He responded to the text, while driving, and had an accident. She, along with him, is being sued for causing the accident! I heard a lawyer argue that this suit is appropriate because their relationship was so close, and they texted so often, that it was the same as if she were present with him and caused a distraction. That almost brings tears to my eyes.
One of the major advantages of email, texting, and voice mail was supposed to have been asynchronous communication, the ability to leave a message, without interrupting, to be read or heard and responded to by the recipient at his or her convenience as opposed to communicating that implied insistence that anyone hearing a ringing phone drop whatever he or she happened to be doing and answer it! So now I guess we have come full circle. If we get a text, we are supposed to drop what we are doing and answer it. And, if we texters are responsible for whatever mistake the recipient makes while responding in a timely fashion, we need an automatic warning to lead all our texts:
Reading and/or responding to this text
while driving or walking or riding a bike or other vehicle
or otherwise moving about or
standing where others may be moving about
in any fashion whatsoever
could cause an accident. Please come to a complete stop
in a safe place and in a safe manner before
reading or responding.
That should keep us out of court, and I’m sure somebody could write a simple app to take care of it. It would be like the message that pops up on my GPS screen every time I start the car. Or we could just throw out the case and focus on personal responsibility of the driver.