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Lawmakers seek tougher approaches to distracted driving

The pace of New York City life practically demands multi-tasking. Small wonder, then, that pedestrians are constantly on the phone or texting. Unfortunately, that distraction may have consequences: Pedestrians may not be as proactive in watching for traffic while attending to their smartphones.

Similarly, drivers who use their smartphones behind the wheel may be unable to respond to sudden changes in traffic flow or road conditions. Unfortunately, the outcome of pedestrian or driver distraction is often tragic, resulting in catastrophic or fatal injuries. A personal injury law firm, like ours, can help victims or surviving loved ones with seeking compensation in a civil lawsuit.

Of course, accident prevention remains the ultimate goal. Although there are laws against texting and driving, the temptation seems too great for many drivers to overcome. In an effort to make a bigger dent in the campaign against distracted driving, some regional authorities are considering new approaches. Lawmakers have proposed making the penalties for distracted driving more severe, possibly by lengthening sentences for criminally negligent driving.

Another new approach involves a court precedent: A Pennsylvania judge recently allowed claims in a wrongful death lawsuit to be brought against not only the negligent, distracted driver, but also the individual who had been sending the texts. The legal theory is somewhat analogous to dram shop liability, where a host who serves alcohol to a visibly intoxicated guest may be liable for any injuries caused by that guest's behavior. In this case, however, the lawsuit may require proof that the sender of the text knew that the recipient was driving.

Source: The Washington Post, "Before you hit send on that text, you might want to make sure the person you're sending it to isn't driving," Fredrick Kunkle, Nov. 10, 2016

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