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Selfies: The newest form of driver distraction

Written by Ankin Law Office

Auto accident attorneys see new trend

When Chicago drivers take to the roads, they put an incredible amount of trust in the other motorists who surround them. Unfortunately, many of these motorists decide to put their own entertainment above the safety of every person they pass by using their smartphones. Auto accident attorneys are starting to see drivers use their cellphones for a new activity – taking pictures of themselves while on the road.

Drivers snap a shot and then post the resulting picture to various social media sites without ever getting out from behind the wheel. According to the Huffington Post, the distracted driving trend is only gaining momentum; more than 3.1 million posts have been labeled with hashtags related to the potentially deadly practice, and additional pictures are posted every day.

Distracted driving affects everyone

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drivers become distracted when they focus on any activity other than driving. Researchers and government officials have broken down the practice into three basic elements: manual, visual, and cognitive distraction.  Taking selfies while driving, like texting, is one of the most dangerous activities a person can do because it requires drivers to become distracted in all three areas. This results in motorists having little or no attention focused on the roads, greatly increasing the likelihood of an accident.

A recent CDC report shows that 3,331 people died and 387,000 were injured in distraction-related crashes in 2011, a sizeable increase from the previous year which government officials believe will continue. If drivers had just kept their hands, eyes and minds on the task of driving, it is possible that each and every one of these injuries and deaths could have been prevented.

Those most likely to drive while distracted

According to the CDC, people of all ages are driving while distracted. The results of one study indicate that as many as 69 percent of surveyed individuals admitted to talking on their cell phone within the past month. Another 31 percent of drivers admitted to one or more instances of texting while driving. While taking selfies was not included in the survey, CNN.com reports that the majority of people taking part in the new trend are young adults and teenagers.

Potentially fatal

A Clemmons, North Carolina woman was recently killed after she caused a severe accident due to her use of social media while driving.  The Huffington Post reports that the 32-year-old was taking selfies and posting them to various social media accounts just prior to her crash. According to investigators, the woman crossed the median of a major road and collided head-on with a large truck just moments after posting a message about a popular song. Her post appeared with an 8:33 a.m. time-stamp and the first calls to authorities reporting the accident came in at 8:34 a.m.

Categories: Auto Accidents