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Deadly New Trend In Distracted Driving

Craig McClellan

Oxford Dictionaries named "selfie" the word of the year for 2012 earlier this month. The term "selfie" has exploded in popularity recently. The popularity of the word has coincided with the popularity of the action it describes - using your cell phone to snap a picture of yourself. While this activity can take place anywhere, safety experts are particularly concerned with the trend of people posing for self-captured photographs while driving. As neither taking photographs, nor posing for them is a safe activity for a driver, doing both at the same time is an obvious crash risk.

The AAA has taken note of this new phenomenon. An analyst for the auto group reminded drivers that taking your eyes off the road for two seconds causes your likelihood of crashing to double. Many selfies lead to longer periods of distraction, but social media has other trends even more dangerous than photos. Vine and Instagram have some drivers taking videos of themselves behind the wheel. Vine videos are 3 to 6 seconds in length, while Instagram allows for videos of up to 15 seconds. A driver who stops paying attention for that length of time is inviting a catastrophe.

The idea of the selfie is new enough that its impact on traffic accidents is not yet known. It may be that the behavior soon passes out of vogue and ceases to be a hazard for drivers and pedestrians. The overall trend toward distracted driving continues, however. Despite laws passed against texting and driving, the sight of a driver with his or her attention fixed on a smart phone screen, rather than on the road, continues to be a common one. Selfies make up just a part of a much larger problem.