It's a dangerous time on the roads right now. Every day we drive past horrific…
In a recently published poll on distracted driving, Travelers Canada asked drivers why they feel the need to check their cell phones on the road. The answers may not surprise you.
Thirty-one percent of respondents claimed that they have family obligations that require their constant attention, while twenty-seven percent explained that they didn’t want to miss out on something important.
Other reasons that drivers gave for checking their phones included the need to be available for work, or simply to help pass the time.
But as the number of distracted drivers increases, some legal experts warn that responsibility is a two way street.
“There’s an increasing public safety issue of operators of vehicles who are distracted while driving,” lawyer Jordan Solway, vice-president of claims at Travelers Canada, said in a recent interview. “And if you contribute in the same way as if you’re in the vehicle, and you interfere with their driving of the vehicle, you could be held responsible for that injured third party.”
The legal question of whether someone who sends a text to a driver should be liable for any resulting injuries has already been raised south of the border.
In 2009, a woman sent a text message to her boyfriend seconds before a car crash that resulted in serious injury to two motorcyclists.
Four years later, the New Jersey court ruled on the accident and declared that if the sender of a text knowingly distracts a driver, they may indeed be held liable.
“We hold that the sender of a text message can potentially be liable if an accident is caused by texting, but only if the sender knew or had special reason to know that the recipient would view the text while driving and thus be distracted,” the court filing ruled.
And the question was raised again in 2017, when a Superior Court judge in Pittsburgh ultimately agreed with the precedent set in New Jersey.
Although there have been no cases yet in Canada, Solway thinks it’s only a matter of time.
He compares it to the responsibility of a bartender who over-serves a patron.
“It’s analogous,” Solway said, “you’re putting someone in a position where they could cause harm to themselves or [others].”