Selfies while driving: the latest teen distraction

Thuy Ngo, Feature Editor

Duck faces, peace signs, and kissy faces—they’re everywhere.  Regardless of the situation, many people feel the need to incessantly post pictures hashtagged #selfie throughout the day.

Since the rise of a new app called Instagram, hundreds of thousands of selfies have been posted.  A selfie is a self portrait typically taken with a hand-held device.  Seemingly harmless besides the annoyance of the “duck face,” selfies have reached beyond just the normal bathroom-sink picture; it has spread to people taking selfies while driving.

Drivers have taken part in a new hashtag called #drivingselfie in which they take photos of themselves as they are driving a vehicle.  The seats of the car are visible and some drivers take pictures of their speedometer that displays how fast they’re going—which is usually above the driving speed limit.

“It only takes a second to look at the screen and I look back at the road when I Snapchat [an app that sends timed pictures or videos],” senior John Nguyen said.  “I can’t make them wait for a reply.”

The dangers of selfies are ignored despite being potentially fatal.  According to Distractions.gov, driving distractions accounted for more than 10 percent of injury crashes in 2011.

Teenage drivers are considered the most dangerous drivers on the road and the rising number of teens taking selfies on the road is increasing.

According to Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, in 2011, 11 percent of all drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were distracted at the time of the crash.

“I wasn’t really thinking about the dangers of it,” senior Jacob Rugnao admitted. “I just wanted to look good on Instagram.”

Teenage drivers can be as young as 16 years old and although it is illegal, many new teenage drivers decide to drive with their peers in the car.  The presence of another passenger greatly affects the focus of a teen driver.

In 2011, 59 percent of the deaths of teenage passengers in passenger vehicles occurred in vehicles driven by another teenager.

Driving selfies not only endanger the driver but also other vehicles’ passengers and driver. So think again before you decide to do #SelfieSunday while driving.