There have always been distractions behind the wheel. Eating, applying makeup, fiddling with the radio, and reading a map are just a few of the less than safe driving practices leading to thousands of collisions each year. Now new technology has created a whole new array of gadgets and tools that put even more drivers and passengers at risk.
Smartphones have enhanced people’s ability and convenience to communicate with others. Emails, text messages, apps, games, and a camera are just some of the tools they offer. However, as mobile technology has advanced, texting while driving rates have skyrocketed and is now one of the leading causes of teen deaths.
Snapping a picture or checking a message may only take a few seconds, but as a driver you don’t ever want to take your focus off the road. In two seconds, a driver traveling at a speed of 60 miles per hour covers 176 feet. According to the CDC in 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver and 387,000 were injured. Accident and fatality rates are particularly high among young drivers.
Driving “Selfies” Putting More at Risk
A new trend that has added risk to the roads is drivers taking self-portraits, or “selfies” with their smartphones. The explosive growth of new social media sharing apps such as Instagram and Snapchat and social sites such as Twitter and Facebook have made driving selfies increasingly common.
A search of hashtags on Instagram and Twitter shows thousands of posts for phrases such as “#drivingselfie”, “#drivingselfies”, and “#drivingtowork”. And while having a passenger taking the shot may keep the driver’s hand on the wheel, it can still be a dangerous distraction.
It’s not just pictures being taken while driving. Videos up to six seconds in length can be posted via Twitter’s Vine app and Instagram allows videos up to 15 seconds in length. Additionally, new devices such as smart watches and Google Glass may add fuel to the fire in keeping this alarming trend headed in the wrong direction.
Against the Law
Driving selfies are not only dangerous, they can also be against the law. Inattention while driving is a citable offense and can bring a costly ticket.
Distracted driving injuries and death are entirely preventable. Whether it is a motorcycle, quad, bicycle, boat, or car, an operator should take all precautions possible to limit distraction and avoid the use of a cell phone, ipod, or other portable device while your vehicle is in motion. Keeping your cell phone out of your hands until you safely reach your destination goes a long way towards keeping the roads safer for all.