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Now that Florida has outlawed texting and driving, there’s a new menace on the road – the selfie.
Selfies, or pictures of yourself that you snap with a cell phone camera and post on social media, have become the hot new thing. Some people are taking the trend too far and posting selfies while driving. This turns a cute fad into a risky and potentially deadly activity.
Thousands of people have uploaded photos of themselves behind the wheel to Instagram using hashtags like #drivingselfie, #driving to work, #drivingfast, and even #ihopeidontcrash.
The selfie trend caught the attention of the American Automobile Association (AAA), which issued a press release asking people to stop taking pictures while driving. In the two seconds it takes to snap a picture, AAA said, a car going 60 miles an hour can travel nearly half the length of a football field. In the time it takes to shoot a 15 second video, a car can travel nearly four football fields.
Toyota has launched a “Don’t Shoot and Drive” ad campaign aimed at stopping the trend. The ads feature a photograph of a wrecked car displayed multiple times using different photo filters, similar to the filters you might use when posting photos on Instagram.
It may seem amazing that people would actually take photos of themselves while driving, or that they’d need to be told that it’s a very bad idea. But selfies are just part of a bigger problem – distracted driving as a cause of car accidents. Distracted driving includes any behavior that takes the driver’s attention from the road, including texting, talking on the phone, eating and putting on makeup.
How big is the distracted driving problem? According to the Centers for Disease Control, 3331 people were killed in crashes involving distracted driving in 2011, and another 387,000 were injured. In Florida alone, distracted driving was a factor in about 4,500 accidents in 2012.
Not only is the problem widespread, but the people who are most likely to take selfies are younger, less experienced drivers who are far more likely to crash their cars when their attention is diverted from the road. Nearly a quarter of all traffic crashes in Florida in 2012 involved drivers under the age of 25.
The biggest problem with taking pictures while driving is the increased risk of an accident. But there can be other legal consequences as well. It’s illegal to text while driving in Florida. If you take a selfie and text it to a friend or upload it to a social media site, you could receive a traffic citation.
If you are involved in an accident after you take a selfie, the police may look at your cell phone for evidence of the cause of the accident. If you’ve uploaded the photo to a social media site while behind the wheel, that can be further evidence against you.
If you’re involved in a car accident caused by another driver, and you suspect the driver was distracted, it is a good idea to discuss you legal options with an accident lawyer before dealing with insurance companies.