Michael Golden Law Corporation May 15, 2018

Who is responsible for a distracted driving accident? As it turns out, it could very well be the person who sent the text. According to an insurance and legal expert, an individual sending a text message could be considered liable if they knew that the recipient was driving.

While there have been precedent-setting cases in the United States, no such situation has happened in Canada but industry insiders believe that it is only a matter of time. When it comes to navigating distracted driving charges in British Columbia, there is a lot of gray area, making it all the more important to understand how to protect yourself from risk.

The Complexities of Distracted Driving

In a recent HuffPost Canada article, the vice-president of claim at a Canadian insurance company put forward the analogy of a bar owner being held responsible for a patron driving while under the influence. It’s similar, he argues, because by texting someone who is driving, a person is knowingly creating a situation that could cause harm.

According to changes in BC law, driving while distracted is an offence. When a driver does not pay due care and attention while operating their vehicle, they are putting themselves and others at risk. Some activities that are prohibited under the Motor Vehicle Act include:

  • The operation of hand-held phones or electric devices

  • Reading or sending emails or text messages

  • Using portable gaming devices or hand-held music players

  • The manual input of information into a GPS system

The Problem With Being Hyper-Connected

In an online survey commissioned by an insurance company, it was found that the primary reason that people cited for distracted driving was having to manage family obligations. Others claimed that they did not want to miss anything important or worried about not being available for work purposes. Regardless of the reason, distracted driving is a real problem in our perpetually-connected lives.

It is too early to speculate on whether or not holding texters responsible for distracted driving accidents is an effective form of discouraging the practice but it remains important to keep in mind. Considering the degree of legal complexities associated with texting while driving cases, it is critical that efforts continue to be made to get the message across.