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Dangerous Distractions: Drivers Shoot Video, Take 'Selfies'

AAA Mid-Atlantic, Inc. | 11/18/2013, noon
Courtesy of aaa.com

They are striking a pose while driving. This is the latest dangerous distracted driving behavior that’s cropping up on the highway and what is trending as thousands of young drivers share photos and videos of themselves in the act of driving. Yes, you read that correctly, people are taking pictures and videos of themselves while they are driving.

On social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram there are millions of driving photos and videos, but looking closely at hashtags such as #drivingselfie, #drivingfast, #drivingtowork, #rainx and #drivingintherain reveal particularly dangerous distracted driving behaviors, warns AAA Mid-Atlantic. In some photos the speedometer is plainly visible and shows that the vehicle is moving, the auto club notes.

The hashtag category called #rainx includes videos of people holding their phones to the windshield while driving in the rain in order to see the beading of rain produced by using the product Rainx. In some cases, the driver lowers the phone enough to see the speedometer, which shows that the vehicle is moving at nearly 70 miles per hour while the driver is distracted.

“The number one activity that should be occurring while you are behind the wheel is driving,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “Hundreds of thousands of people are injured each year as a result of distracted driving and these injuries and deaths are entirely preventable. Put the camera down and wait until you arrive at a safe destination. Don’t let that driving selfie or video be the last photo you ever take.”

Self-portraits have been making history for hundreds of years from the early works ofLeonardo Da Vinci andDiego Velázquez to the more recent works of Frida Kahlo. However, while these self-portraits were created on still ground, this trend is deadly to drivers and those around them. It is a sign of the times and one of the most dangerous activities a driver can do, but it is especially hazardous for the young and inexperienced drivers engaging in this activity, warns AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving during daylight hours, according to the latest National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) for the year 2011. Further, in 2011, “Of those people killed in distraction-affected crashes, 385 died in crashes in which at least one of the drivers was using a cell phone (12% of fatalities in distraction-affected crashes) at the time of the crash.”

Let’s do the math. There are 5,280 feet in one mile. If a vehicle is traveling 60 miles per hour it goes 316,800 feet per hour. One hour has 3,600 seconds, so 316,800/3,600 is 88 feet per second. Twitter allows a maximum of 6 seconds of video while Instagram allows a maximum of 15 seconds.

A driver taking a video with a length of six seconds is not paying full attention to driving for a total of 528 feet while a driver taking a video with a length of 15 seconds is not paying full attention to driving for a total of 1,320 feet. A driver taking a photo for approximately two seconds takes their eyes off of the road for 176 feet. For comparison, a regulation NBA basketball court is 94 feet, a regulation FIFA soccer field is 300 feet and an NFL football field is 360 feet.