Dangers of “Selfies” – The New Driving Distraction

Dangers of “Selfies” – The New Driving Distraction

According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), taking selfies while driving is the latest trend in distracted driving. Distracted driving along with not wearing a seatbelt, driving while under the influence of alcohol and speeding plays a major role in accident fatalities, accounting for 12% of them. Since car crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it is imperative to educate our teens about the danger of this new driving risk.

A “selfie” is social media shorthand for a self-taken photograph (or in this case, video) that is posted on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other social networking website. “Selfie” was deemed the word of the year for 2013 by Britain’s University Press who strives to choose a word that best defines the year. Unfortunately, in this case, what may define our times is also placing us in harm’s way.


In a typical scenario, drivers are taking photos or short videos of themselves while driving and then posting them on the web with hashtags such as #drivingselfie, #drivingfast, #drivingtowork, and #Ihopeidontcrash. Some of the photos/videos capture the speedometer — proof for the onlooker that the driver is in fact in motion — and sometimes going as fast as 70 MPH — when the image is captured.

Other videos are hashtagged #rainx or #drivingintherain and are taken to show off the effects of Rain-X, a product that causes rain water to bead on a windshield. Yet more photos are taken of passengers in the car goofing off, or even just the passing scenery as shot from the driver’s seat.

Distraction.gov, the government’s official distracted driving website, defines distracted driving as, “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety.” The Department of Transportation reports more than 3,300 deaths every year that are caused by distracted driving.

Distractions other than “selfies” include:

Smoking (lighting up, looking for cigarettes or matches, using the ashtray).
Cellphones/smartphones (talking, texting, dialing, surfing the internet).
Eating and drinking.
Talking to passengers.
Applying makeup/grooming.
Reading (books, magazines or maps).
Using a device that is part of the car, such as a GPS, heater/AC, radio or other music player, and adjusting rearview mirrors.
Generally lost in thought.
Unsecured pets that are traveling in the car.

Currently, Minnesota is one of the 41 states that ban texting while driving altogether. General cell phone use is banned only for school bus drivers and novice drivers who are under 18 with a learner’s permit or provisional license. That means making a responsible decision is up to you.

Because it can take as little as a few seconds to snap a photo, young or new drivers tend to think it is no big deal. What they may not be aware of is how much can happen in just a few seconds when in motion.

The following calculations by AAA can be sobering:

“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.

“A driver taking a photo for approximately two seconds takes their eyes off of the road for nearly two basketball courts, nearly half a football field, or over half a soccer field. A driver filming a six second video while driving 60 mph is not paying attention to the road for over 5.5 basketball court lengths, nearly two soccer fields or 1.5 football fields. A driver filming a 15 second video while driving 60 mph is not paying attention to the road for over 14 basketball court lengths, nearly 4.5 soccer fields or nearly 4 football fields.”
Take the time to talk to your teen drivers about distracted driving and the danger of taking “selfies” while behind the wheel. Share the above facts about time and distance while driving. Just a few minutes of your time could save them a lifetime.

Share Post with a Friend