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Snapping selfies while behind the wheel

There is no question that drivers who use their cellphones to make calls, text, map out directions or compose an email while behind the wheel put people in danger. In 2017 alone, more than 3,100 people were killed in distracted driving accidents, and thousands more were injured in similar collisions. Surprisingly, motorists have taken the danger a step further by snapping selfies while driving and then posting them on social media sites.

There are three main types of distractions: cognitive, manual and visual. When drivers attempt to take a selfie, they must take their hands off the steering wheel, which is a manual distraction. As they take their eyes off the road and focus on posing for a pic, posting or writing comments, drivers are visually distracted. Once the picture is taken, drivers may go even further to create a social media post for their selfie and write a caption. All of these tasks combine to take the drivers’ focus off of the road. Drivers who are cognitively distracted are less likely to respond to hazards, such as objects in the road, traffic lights, pedestrian crosswalks, bad weather conditions and other motorists.

A number of social media sites, including Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, have thousands of posts showing drivers’ selfies. There are more than 3,700 posts on Instagram under #drivingselfie and more than 9,700 under #drivingselfies. Unfortunately, these events are not reserved for motor vehicle drivers. People driving motorcycles, boats and even planes can all be found posting a selfie on one of these notorious sites.