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OMG! Driving Selfies are a Hazard!

Driving Selfie MemeWhen did driving selfies become popular? No one is certain, but it probably started right after people got tired of taking photos of everything they eat. We know that some people aren't just satisfied simply driving their vehicles, they also want to do things such as eating, texting, reading a map and applying makeup while at the wheel. It's a strange phenomenon and a scary situation for drivers, passengers, other motorists and even pedestrians.

At Jim & Jack's Collision Center - El Segundo, we know that distracted driving is a serious problem all over the country and we've witnessed it more than once here in El Segundo. More and more, teens and young adults alike are snapping self-portraits while driving and posting them online.  Many of these photos have hashtags like #drivingselfie or #drivinghome and the sad fact is, these careless drivers are putting their lives in danger and endangering the people around them.

National studies tell us that distracted driving causes more than 3,300 deaths a year, according to the Department of Transportation. You can blame it on the technology, but in the end it comes down to people's bad driving habits and poor choices.

Dumb and Dumber

Just using common sense would tell you that driving selfies are dangerous, but that doesn’t seem to stop people from snapping a quick pic. The statistics show that driving selfies have gone from being a fad to becoming a major trend. Instagram shows more than 4,200 posts under the #drivingselfie hashtag; more than 2,200 for the plural #drivingselfies and more than 11,000 for #drivingtowork.  Believe it or not, there is also one called #Ihopeidontcrash.

Not all the photos or videos shot by drivers are of themselves. Some are of their passengers being goofy or of beautiful scenery zipping past. But the problem is that all of this photo-taking requires using at least one hand to open a camera app, frame the shot and press the shutter button.

Not surprisingly, highway safety advocates aren't thrilled with an epidemic of driving selfies. Representatives from highway and auto safety organizations aren't pleased about self-driving and is demanding more stringent laws to prohibit them. "Taking a photo of yourself while you're driving a 2,000-pound vehicle down the road at 50 or 60 miles per hour is putting your life in danger and putting the lives of those around you in danger," a spokesperson for the Department of Transportation said.

Stop driving with selfies

It's Not Restricted to Cars

The trend isn't limited to automobiles. There are also selfies of people piloting motorcycles, boats and even planes, because people will always try to one-up each other. There is even a selfie out there with an adolescent surfing on the freeway on the roof rack of his family's SUV. When the photo went viral, the poor kid in question was grounded for life and justifiably so!

We're not claiming that all selfies taken in vehicles are wrong or illegal. We don't want to be accused of killing all the fun, so here are some rules for car selfies. First, if you're hankering to do a selfie in the car (for whatever reason) wait until you're at a full and complete stop before capturing this very significant moment. And if you decide to do a group shot taken by your passengers, that is fine, as long as you keep both your hands on the wheel and your eyes are on the road.

If motorists are caught taking self-photos while driving, they should receive a ticket and if it happens again, the penalties should be increased. Using a phone while behind the wheel, unless tethered to Bluetooth or another hands-free system, is illegal under many state laws.  And beware--wearable devices may be the next target for law enforcement. A woman in San Diego, CA got a ticket recently for driving while wearing Google Glasses, the headset that projects Web content on a tiny screen above the user's right eye.

The phenomenon is frightening enough that Toyota has released a "Don't Shoot and Drive" ad aimed at Instagram-happy drivers. The ad shows a photo of a totaled car edited with various Instagram filters.

Stop taking selfies

It's Primarily a Teen Thing

So far, the people snapping rolling self-portraits appear to be mostly young adults and teenagers. Teens are the target of the most recent distracted-driving push by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. According to the NHTSA, car crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers. Alcohol, speeding and not wearing seat belts are major factors, but distracted driving played a role in 12% of the fatal accidents.

The ridiculousness of the trend may seem amusing, especially to the people posting the images, but safety advocates warn the potential for injury and death is very real. At Jim & Jack's Collision Center - El Segundo, we don't want CA to be another one of those states where distracted-related accidents and fatalities continually happen. So, hopefully the information in this article will help drivers in El Segundo and nearby towns to think before snapping driving selfies before they act.

Sources: NHTSA, DOT and Toyota News

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