New driver distraction: Taking selfies behind the wheel

10179256_sSelf-portraits, or selfies, have become a common feature of social media websites. When drivers take selfies while on the road, this form of driver distraction has the potential to turn deadly. In North Carolina, a post to social media revealed that a woman posted pictures of herself driving and a status update one minute before the police were called to the scene of a fatal car crash involving her car.

Selfies take the driver’s attention from the road

Distracted driving involves taking eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, or mind off the task of driving. Studies have shown that any one of the three have the potential to cause a car accident, but the use of hand held devices to perform tasks such as texting or checking email and social media are much more likely to cause a crash because these tasks involve all three forms of distraction.

Over 3 million pictures with text indicating they were taken while driving have been counted on one social media site alone, according to The Huffington Post. Many drivers indicate they are aware of the risk they take by adding hashtags such as #ihopeidontcrash, and yet still seem willing to put their lives and the lives of others at risk. Furthermore, commercial drivers also contribute to the number of driving selfies, even though federal law prohibits truck drivers from using their cellphones while driving.

Posting selfies to social media sites intensifies the dangers of distracted driving

Taking a picture and posting it to a social media sites requires several steps, including the following:

•             Opening the camera feature of the phone

•             Holding the phone at an angle to snap the shot

•             Posting the picture to a social media site

•             Adding a text caption to the picture

According to Distraction.gov, using hand held devices for tasks such as entering text increases the risk of an accident by three times. In five seconds on the highway, a car covers the distance of the length of a football field. To post a driving selfie, the driver will look at the phone for two to five seconds while performing each of these four tasks, which is equal to driving several hundred yards blindfolded.

Many states are attempting to reduce the number of injury and fatality crashes caused by distracted driving by enforcing stricter laws on the use of hand held devices. Recent advertisements illustrating the dangers of taking selfies while driving may help, as well. People who are the victims of distracted drivers should contact an attorney to protect their rights and seek appropriate compensation.