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Driver distraction: Selfies and social media posts

Although it is widely known that distracted driving causes serious car accidents, injuries and deaths, people continue to engage in these hazardous behaviors while behind the wheel. Even though it is against the law to use a hand-held cellphone in Illinois and in many other states across the nation, drivers continue to manipulate their cellphones to call, text and message friends. To take it a step further, motorists also take ‘selfies’ while driving and continue on to post them to social media sites.

Using a hand-held cellphone to take a selfie is a manual, visual and cognitive distraction. Not only must drivers take their hands off of the steering wheel to snap the picture, they must also take their eyes off the road to look at the camera and position the phone. Furthermore, their concentration is taken off of the road and any hazards that may require their immediate attention, such as traffic signals, stop signs, pedestrian crosswalks, bicyclists, kids or animals running out in the road or bad weather conditions. Even further focus is taken from driving when people post their pics to social media sites and write a caption for the photo. Yet this continues to happen.

Looking under the Instagram #drivingselfie, more than 3,727 posts appear. Around 1,869 posts occur under #drivingselfies. Approximately 9,700 posts are shown under #drivingtowork. Similar posts occur under all social media sites, and they do not just include drivers. People operating planes and boats are also included in the mania.

It is critical that drivers learn to put down their cellphones and wait until they are not behind the wheel to answer texts, take selfies and update their social media sites in order to avoid a catastrophic collision.

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