Selfies Causing Crashes
Car accident risks heighten when drivers take selfies
When drivers take to Chicago’s roads, they accept that they are taking some risks. With the advent of social media and the popularity of the smartphone, more drivers are choosing to make the potentially dangerous choice of using their hand-held devices while on the road. Some motorists are taking this to the next level by snapping photographs of themselves and posting the pictures to social media websites, all while actively driving. According to the Huffington Post, this is not just a passing trend among a few participants. More than 3.1 million posts under hashtags related to taking selfies while driving are available to view online, and hundreds more are added every day.
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The costs of distracted driving
When drivers fail to focus on the task of driving they are deemed distracted according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Distraction comes in three main areas: manual, visual and cognitive. When drivers take selfies and post them to social media sites, they are distracted in all three ways possible, making the practice one of the most dangerous in which motorists can engage. According to the CDC, driver distraction is continuing to expand every year as more drivers choose to text or engage in other dangerous activities. In 2010, 3,267 individuals died due to the negligent acts of distracted drivers. In 2011, 3,331 lost their lives in the same way and another 387,000 were injured. That means that 9 deaths and 1,000 injuries occurred every day in 2011 simply because drivers could not wait until they stopped to engage in distractive behaviors.
Those most likely to drive distracted
CDC studies show that drivers of all ages choose to become distracted. When individuals between the ages of 18 and 64 were surveyed, 69 percent admitted to talking on their cell phone while driving within the past 30 days. Thirty-one percent of participants also admitted to having read or sent at least one text message while on the road in the previous month. While selfies were not included in the study, they are on par with other types of distractive behaviors like texting, which require a large amount of manual, visual and cognitive ability. Additionally, one look at various social media sites confirms that car accident risks associated with selfies are not limited to any particular age.
When combined, drivers and distraction can have deadly consequences. The Huffington Post reports that a Clemmons, North Carolina woman was recently killed when she decided to take selfies and post messages to social media sites while on a busy highway. The 32-year-old crossed the median and crashed into an oncoming tractor trailer at full speed. Investigators learned that she had posted a message to a social media account at 8:33 a.m., just one minute before the first call came in reporting her deadly accident.