Distracted driving is gaining attention as a serious issue and combine it with the epidemic of selfies behind the wheel and you have a potentially lethal combination. When you look at the statistics surrounding road traffic accidents and the fact that taking a selfie is considered to be more dangerous than drunk-driving, it soon becomes painfully clear that something needs to be done to address this problem.
The dangerous act of taking a selfie
There is a valid argument to suggest that taking a selfie whilst behind the wheel of your car is actually a more dangerous activity than driving your car whilst drunk, which is worrying as that is a pretty irresponsible act in its own right.
The problem of taking selfies whilst driving is not necessarily confined to younger drivers, but according to the Institute of Advanced Motorists, close to 20% of drivers aged under 35 years of age admitted to the act when questioned in a survey, compared to 9% overall. Whichever way you look at it, these figures can be considered alarmingly high.
Testing driver’s reactions
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) have provided a driver distraction fact sheet which highlights the inherent dangers of distracted driving due to the use of mobile phones in vehicles. In simple terms, a driver is distracted when they are trying to pay attention to a secondary activity rather than concentrating solely on ensuring they are driving their vehicle safely.
Just as simple to understand is the fact that despite our conviction to the contrary, most of us are not actually hardwired to safely multi-task and this is even more the case when the extra activity is considered time consuming or slightly complex. The extra demands placed on our attention such as the act of taking a selfie while driving, leads us to become less observant and make worse driving decisions, so our reactions are diminished. Simulator tests consistently back up this observation and show that our reactions are slower when we are driving distracted, therefore increasing our chances of being involved in an accident.
Selfies are just the beginning
Whatever your opinion of the act of taking a selfie in general, it seems that this form of distracted driving could be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to irresponsible behaviour behind the wheel.
A disturbingly high number of one in 12 motorists actually admitted to using Skype or FaceTime to video call someone while they were driving and an incredible seven percent of motorists surveyed by motoring organisations, admitted to watching TV behind the wheel.
With so many people seemingly willing to take selfies, send emails or even watch TV whilst trying to drive, it is not surprising that distracted driving incidents and accidents are currently on the increase, despite the clear dangers to the driver and fellow motorists.
By Danielle Estrella – Danielle Estrella works as a commercial driving instructor and always likes to take the chance to discuss hot topics like distracted driving with an online audience. She is a regular writer for a number of motoring-inspired websites.