The latest trend in distracted driving: taking selfies

Distracted driving has become an increasingly prevalent problem, leading to some cities and states, including San Antonio, to implement laws requiring hands-free devices while driving. According to the Centers for Disease Control, traffic accidents attributed to distracted driving account for 1,161 injuries and eight deaths per day.

There are several potential sources of distracted driving. Anything that leads to a driver taking his or her hands, eyes or mind away from the activity at hand constitutes distracted driving. Cell phones and texting account for major sources of distracted driving, especially among young people. There is a significantly higher proportion of fatal accidents due to distraction when the driver is under the age of 20 than when with drivers of an older age.

Now, many young people have found another source of distraction: taking selfies while driving. According to CNN, out of the driving selfies reviewed on social media, teenagers and young adults account for the vast majority of posters. This is unsettling, as the leading cause of death in this age group is car accidents, and distracted driving is a significant contributor. The time it takes to take the picture puts everyone on the road in danger, especially when it occurs at speeds above 50 miles per hour. The split second it might take could be sufficient to create a dangerous situation in which an accident occurs.

The hashtags #drivingselfie, #drivingselfies or #drivingtowork trend on social media sites like Twitter and Instagram, illuminating the trend. Although passengers appear to take some of the photos, many of the drivers look at the camera rather than the road in the picture, so it remains a risk. It is possible that the photos are taken while the car is stopped rather than in motion, but the trend might lead to some taking the photos while actually driving. In states where driving with a phone is illegal, a driver also could be ticketed for taking a selfie, similar to if he or she were to be talking or texting without using a hands-free device.

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