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'Selfies' Become New Form of Distraction

We’ve all seen “selfies,” or photos that people take of themselves using their cellphones for posting on social media. Unfortunately, some drivers are taking selfies while they are behind the wheel. It’s the newest extreme in distracted driving.

According to a CNN report, Instagram has 3,727 posts using the #drivingselfie hashtag, 1,869 for plural #drivingselfies, and 9,700 under the hashtag #drivingtowork. Most of the selfies appear to be of people in their teens and early 20s.

Some 3,300 people are killed in distracted-driving crashes every year, according to CNN, and if #drivingselfies continues, that number is likely to increase.

In fact, Toyota considers the behavior so dangerous it released an advertisement called “Don’t Shoot and Drive” that is designed to stop this ill-advised fad.

More teens are killed by car crashes than anything else, and even though alcohol, speeding and failure to wear seat belts are the leading causes, distracted driving is a factor in 12 percent.

Michigan has its share of distracted drivers. A survey by the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning found that more than half of motorists admitted talking on the cellphone while driving in 2013 and a third looked at text messages and email while driving.

Even more disturbing, 16 percent of drivers acknowledged that they sent text messages and email while driving, despite a state law that prohibits texting while driving. Oddly enough, about two-thirds of those surveyed said they considered their driving skills to be better than the average driver’s. People tend to overestimate their abilities to multitask while driving and that puts other drivers on the road at risk, whether it’s posting a photo online while behind the wheel or juggling food and beverage while in traffic.

Michigan’s law doesn’t exactly target selfies, but it’s safe to say that this trend is every bit as dangerous as texting and driving, if not more so, and in many states just as illegal.

Whether some of the Instagram photos cited in the CNN article were taken when the vehicles were sitting still is difficult to tell. Some of them were taken by a passenger, and some were shots of passing cars.

Even so, distractions by new technology are becoming more common, and young drivers may be especially vulnerable.

All of this can add up to disaster on the roads. If you or a loved one is injured in a wreck involving a distracted driver, get as much information as you can from the investigating officer, then contact an attorney experienced with handling car-crash and personal-injury cases to make sure you can be compensated for any personal losses or injuries.