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Courts, laws and apps: 3 steps to reduce distracted driving

Distracted driving is dangerous. Taking your eyes of the road to quickly check a text or update a post online can lead to a tragic accident. This concept is no surprise. What is new news is the fact that courts, lawmakers and producers of applications on smartphones are taking steps to help reduce the risk of these accidents.

Three specific changes that will help reduce this risk include:

  • Courts consider holding both parties to the texting conversations liable for crashes.
  • A move to put textalyzer devices into officer's hands.
  • Apps that measure the speed of the user.

Having an understanding of these changes can help victims of accidents hold distracted drivers accountable.

Both texting parties may soon be liable for crashes

Two court cases have taken this question into consideration. The first is from 2013, out of New Jersey. In that case, the court stated that a person sending a text to another person may be liable for a resulting car accident if specific criteria are met.

These criteria included that the person sending the message knew or should have known that the receiver was driving, knew or should have known that the receiver would read the message and that there was a relationship between the driver and the text sender that made the driver feel obligated to check the message.

The second case is currently under consideration in Pennsylvania. The case involved a woman who was responding to messages from two text senders. While responding, she hit and killed a motorcycle rider. The motorcycle rider's estate is suing the woman driver and both participants in the texting conversation.

Both men requested the court remove them from the case. This request was denied, with the court using the precedent case as support. Although the court did not say that the men are guilty, it did say the case could proceed against them.

Courts throughout the country are generally not required to follow the findings of courts in other states. However, when it comes to novel questions like this they may look to other courts for guidance.

Textalyzer gains popularity

The Textalyzer is a device that can scan a phone and determine if the phone was recently used to send text messages. It provides the time of use, not the content. As a result, it is designed to maintain the phone owner's privacy rights. In order to get additional information about what was sent, if needed, the officer would have to get a warrant.

Apps measure speed of user

Applications like Snapchat now have the capability to measure how fast the user is traveling. This feature can be used to shut down the app if it is believed that the user may be driving.

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