While safety groups and law enforcement have been spending their time trying to convince teens not to text while they’re driving, a new and even more dangerous trend seems to be emerging: teens and young adults are apparently taking “selfies” — smart-phone self-portraits — while they’re behind the wheel.
According to a recent CNN report, a Twitter search for “driving selfie” pulls up hundreds of photo and video results. On the photo-sharing social media site Instagram, reporters found more than 10,000 shared images by searching for the hashtags #drivingselfie, #drivingselfies and #drivingtowork. Unfortunately, CNN found selfies of motorcyclists, boaters and even pilots.
The dangerous trend has gotten bad enough that Toyota recently released an ad aimed at Instagram users called “Don’t Shoot and Drive.”
To be fair, it’s not always obvious whether the photo was taken while the vehicle was in motion, and some were clearly taken by passengers. If you know a teen or a young adult, however, you’ve probably noticed that they seem unable to set down their smart phones for more than a few minutes.
If they can’t resist the urge to take photos behind the wheel — of themselves or anything else — it would certainly indicate they’re not paying close attention to their driving. The process would require opening a camera app, framing the shot and pressing the button, and safety groups have demonstrated that just a few seconds of inattention is enough to cause a potentially catastrophic car accident.
“Taking a photo of yourself while you’re driving a 2,000-pound vehicle down the road at 50 or 60 miles per hour? That is putting your life in danger and putting the lives of those around you in danger,” said the president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving plays a role in around 12 percent of all fatal traffic accidents involving teens — and car accidents are the leading cause of death among American teens.
Yet new ways to spend time behind the wheel besides driving never seem to stop coming. As you may have heard, on Oct. 31 a San Diego woman was the first person reported to have been ticketed for wearing Google Glass — an Internet device set into glasses frames.
Source: CNN, “Young drivers snapping ‘selfies’ at the wheel,” Heather Kelly, Nov. 6, 2013