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Selfies: new motorist threat

Everyone seems to take a selfie at most every occasion. There are apparently no limits to this trend because drivers are taking their eyes off the road for selfies and increasing the risks of car accidents.

The Auto Insurance Center recently issued a report on the use of personal electronic devices by motorists. It cited figures from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration that reports that 666,000 motorists are using cellphones while driving at any given moment in this country. It also reviewed over 70,000 Instagram posts and made the disturbing conclusion that motorists are taking photos and uploading them on social media while they are driving.

The researchers reviewed Instagram postings that contained hashtags such as #DrivingSelfie, #SelfieWhileDriving and #HopeIDontCrash. These have become prevalent across most of the United States and occur frequently in heavily-populated areas. Weekends and spring have shown the highest frequency of selfie posts.

California, Nevada, Florida and Hawaii posted the majority of these hashtags with an average of more than two posts for every 100,000 residents of those states. Researchers attribute their status as vacation destinations for these rankings. Nine of the 10 states with the fewest selfie posts are in the South or Midwest, except for Idaho which had the fourth fewest Instagram posts. Mississippi drivers have the lowest frequency, with an average of only 0.2 posts per 100,000 residents.

There does not appear to be a strong relationship between states with strict distracted driving laws and selfie posts. This indicates that the motivation to post pictures comes from location or driver inclination instead of state laws.

Taking and posting selfies is even more dangerous than texting and driving. AAA research shows that a driver's eyes leave the road for two seconds to take a selfie. During that time, a vehicle can travel 176 feet at 60 mph, which is almost the distance of two basketball courts. Capturing a video may last much longer because footage of up to 60 seconds is now allowed.

Distracted driver victims may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses and lost wages. An attorney can help obtain evidence and pursue a lawsuit in court.

Source: Auto Insurance Center, "#Driving Danger: Instagram Posts Shed Light on a Distracted Driving Trend," Accessed Nov. 7, 2017

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