People Who Text A Driver May Be Held Responsible For Crash

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Texting while driving. Image: Intel Free Press

Texting while driving. Image: Intel Free Press

Everyone knows it’s dangerous to use a cell phone or text while driving.

In the future, it could be illegal to text someone who is driving.

That’s because it may cause the driver to pick up the phone and text back—which could cause a crash.

Three judges in the U.S. state of New Jersey have “agreed in principal” that if someone knows that the person they’re texting is driving, and the driver crashes into someone, both people (the driver and the texter) might be considered responsible for the accident.

It’s based on an accident that occurred in New Jersey, news agency CNN reports.

Kyle Best was driving his pickup truck in 2009; his girlfriend was sending him texts and he was answering them. At the time he was 18 and she was 17.

Because he was distracted by his phone, Best crashed his truck into a car coming the other way, causing serious injuries to the two people in the car.

The people in the car sued Best—and Best’s girlfriend.

They lost their first case against Best’s girlfriend, but last week three “appeal” judges changed that decision.

The judges said that if someone knows another person is driving, and texts them, they could be held “liable” (responsible) for the accident.

The key to the ruling is that the person sending the text must know that the person they’re texting is also driving and would become distracted by their text.

In the case of Best’s girlfriend, the judges said she sent a lot of texts—more than 100 a day—and likely didn’t know that her boyfriend was driving at the time.

New Jersey’s governor, Chris Christie, said he doesn’t think texters should be held responsible for a crash. He said it’s the driver’s responsibility to drive safely, and to not pick up their phone while they’re driving.

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Even though everyone knows that it is not safe to use a phone while driving, many people do it every day. This act puts themselves and others in danger.

Create an advertisement (television, radio or print) to convince people not to use their phones while driving.

Reading Prompt: Making Inferences/Interpreting Texts
What is your opinion of this debate? Do you think that people who send messages to drivers should be held responsible if an accident occurs? Why or why not?

Junior
Use stated and implied ideas in texts to make inferences and construct meaning (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Intermediate
Develop and explain interpretations of increasingly complex or difficult texts using stated and implied ideas from the texts to support their interpretations (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Grammar Feature: Antonym
An antonym is a word that has an opposite meaning. For example, an antonym for ‘safe’ is ‘dangerous’.

Think of at least two antonyms for the following words from the article:
1. future
2. illegal
3. responsible
4. distracted
5. serious