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Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP

How Are Drivers Risking Others When Snapping Selfies?

We have all heard the admonition “Don’t text and drive.” Soon we may hear a new one: “Don’t take selfies and drive.”

The American Automobile Association recently warned that or taking pictures of oneself with a camera phone has become popular among young drivers. AAA says the trend is evident in the number of selfies that drivers have uploaded to social media sites such as Instagram and Twitter with hashtags such as #drivingtowork, #goingfast, and #gettingtoworkontime, CBS in Dallas/Fort Worth reports.

Taking a selfie while driving puts you and other motorists at risk. A car going 60 mph is traveling 88 feet every second, nearly the length of a basketball court. Traveling the length of a football field will barely take four seconds. If we consider that snapping a picture takes two seconds and posting it takes another two seconds, a driver is distracted for the entire length of a football field.

Even at slower speeds, a car accident can happen in the blink of an shutter. Consider:

  • At any daylight moment, almost 660,000 drivers are using an electronic device while driving. This means that it is not just the person snapping the selfie who may be distracted but fellow drivers as well.
  • Taking a selfie requires a number of other tasks. These include reaching for the phone, finding the app, taking a picture, looking at the picture, adding text or hashtags, and posting the picture. All of these distract a driver, increasing the odds of a dangerous accident.

Understanding Distracted Driving

Anything that diverts a person’s attention away from driving amounts to a distraction. Distracted driving behaviors are inherently dangerous to drivers, passengers, and others on the road. While distracted driving is nothing new, taking selfies create a new form of distraction because they require a driver’s simultaneous cognitive, manual, and visual input.

Because taking selfies is a relatively new trend, no data are available regarding how many drivers take pictures of themselves behind the wheel. However, we know that using a cellphone while driving raises the risk of an accident.  Anything that makes that activity even more distracting is always a bad idea.

It is important to remember that the selfie can be used as evidence against a distracted driver in a court of law. It can show that a driver was distracted by an electronic device when the driver should have been focused on the road.

Driving is a complicated task that requires physical, visual, and mental attention. Distracted driving is a major issue in New York State and elsewhere. One in five crashes tin New York State is attributed to distracted driving. More than 30,000 tickets were issued throughout the state for texting-while-driving in 2012 an increase of 234 percent in just a year.

While it is good to see states cracking down on distracted driving, it is important that people who use smartphones while driving – regardless of whether they are taking selfies – realize that this behavior is dangerous. Distracted driver can be held responsible when they cause  preventable accidents that injure other people.

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