Most social media websites include millions of self-portraits, or selfies, which are typically taken with smartphones. These pictures feature a variety of favorite poses or backgrounds, but when they are taken from behind the wheel of a moving vehicle, they have the potential to become deadly. Many car accidents have been directly linked to posts on social media sites that are identified by the time stamps of the messages. Any use of a smartphone while behind the wheel is considered distracted driving which is illegal in the state of Illinois.
Posting a selfie requires at least four steps
A driver is legally considered distracted when the hands are off the wheel, the eyes are off the road, or the mind is disengaged from the task of driving. Numerous studies prove that each of these alone may cause a crash, but using a hand-held device to send or receive texts, emails or social media messages includes all three forms of distraction. The steps involved in taking a picture and posting it online include the following:
- Opening the phone’s camera feature
- Positioning the phone for the picture
- Putting the picture on the social media site
- Typing in a caption for the picture
At highway speeds, the average text takes a driver’s attention from the road for about five seconds, during which time the vehicle travels about 100 yards. Selfies behind the wheel require two to five seconds for each of the four tasks. This is the equivalent to wearing a blindfold to drive the length of several football fields. The Illinois State Police website states that any cellphone use increases a driver’s chances of a car accident by 400 percent, and selfies behind the wheel increase the risk exponentially.
Drivers are aware of the dangers
According to a story published by The Huffington Post, more than 3 million pictures on one social media site indicate that the vehicle was moving when the driver snapped the shot. Many of these selfies are labeled with hashtags such as #ihopeidontcrash, indicating that the drivers are aware of the risks they pose to themselves and others on the road by engaging in this activity. Even though cellphone use is federally banned for all commercial vehicle operators, they participate in the driving selfie trend, too.
The number of injuries and fatalities on the roadways caused by distracted driving is growing each year. Car accident lawyers in Chicago can provide important legal counsel to victims of car accidents caused by drivers using cellphones.