Everyone knows just how dangerous it is to call a friend or send a text while driving, but social media trends suggest a worrying number of people think nothing of taking selfies behind the wheel.
In fact, at the time of writing, there have been 1,423,593 uses of the hashtag #carselfie on Instagram alone, while 30,110 photos have been tagged with #drivingselfie.
The trend is widespread, with one in four young people in Europe admitting to having taken a selfie while driving.
Although others may be tempted to join in with the craze, it’s important to consider the risks involved. Not only are selfie-taking drivers putting their own lives at risk, they’re also putting other motorists, passengers, and pedestrians in danger.
In the seconds it takes to capture the perfect selfie, so much can happen on the road. Research suggests that taking just one selfie at the wheel can distract a driver for up to 20 seconds. If the car in question is travelling at 60mph, it will have covered the distance of five football fields by the time the photo is taken.
Taking selfies while driving can slow reaction times by 38%, compared to 21% when driving under the influence of cannabis, and 12.5% when driving at the legal alcohol limit.
In 2014, 32-year-old Courtney Ann Sanford died in a collision moments after posting a Facebook status talking about how happy she was while driving to work. At 8.33am she posted “The happy song makes me HAPPY!” By 8.34am, police received a call to say that there’d been an accident. When investigators looked back over Ms Sanford’s activity, they found that she’d also been posting selfies as she drove.
And earlier this year, a 22-year-old woman livestreamed her death by propping her smartphone up on the dashboard while driving to work. The video showed her frequently looking down at the phone’s screen before her car was hit by a bus. The impact of the bus was so strong that she was hurled from the driver’s seat and halfway through the front passenger seat window.
Using a mobile phone while driving is considered illegal. Whether you’re sending a text, listening to music, updating your Facebook status or taking a selfie. Even if the phone is in airplane mode, if you are caught using it at the wheel it will lead to 6 penalty points on your licence and a £200 fine.