Articles

The dangers of taking selfies while driving

Drivers are putting lives at risk taking photos or videos of themselves while driving

Monday, July 10 2017

As social media updates continue to draw in and keep people of all ages glued to their mobile devices, it is the growing trend of taking so-called selfies while driving that poses a very real risk to motorists and other road users.

“The popular #drivingtowork and #drivinghome hashtags that many use to post pictures of themselves on social media whilst driving may seem harmless enough, however just taking your eyes off the road for a few seconds can potentially end in tragedy. The reality is that the busier the road is, the more unpredictable the circumstances become, making snapping a photo or video in peak times particularly dangerous.

“Even though most of us have heeded the warning of not texting whilst driving and opted to invest in hands-free devices, the same is not true of the current selfie-while-driving trend that has become very popular.

“People engaging in this type of social media activity need to realise that they are not just endangering their own lives but those of other motorists and road users, including pedestrians,” warns Mande Toubkin, Netcare’s general manager emergency, trauma, transplant and corporate social investment.

And while the number of accidents resulting from selfie-related behaviour are often difficult to determine, largely due to people not owning up to driving negligently, deaths via selfie continue to increase every year. According to MIT Technology Review, the results of data scientists tracking the rise of selfie deaths across the globe indicate that 73 people died while taking selfies in the first eight months of 2016 alone.

“Recent figures indicate that approximately 1 120 more people died on South African roads in 2016 than in 2015, making it the highest annual road death toll since 2007. And if you just look around at how many people are on their phones, particularly when stuck in slow moving traffic, often taking photos of themselves or of other cars or incidents on the road, it’s easy to understand how so many car accidents happen.

“Driving is one of those tasks that demands your full attention. Countless deaths every year are attributed to distracted driving, evidence that taking your hands off the wheel and eyes off the road for just a few seconds is more dangerous than many people realise,” she emphasises.

“Ultimately we want to make drivers aware that talking, texting, checking social media and selfie posts while driving are adding to the already high road accident statistics on South African roads. This begs the question as to whether posting a picture is actually worth risking human lives,” concludes Toubkin.

So what can be done to discourage snapping selfies while behind the wheel? Here are some ways to minimise selfie-related road accidents.

  1. Educate drivers, particularly the younger generation who tend to use social media platforms most, as to the dangers of being distracted and particularly of taking selfies while driving.
  2. Investigate possible distracted driver apps that will assist you in preventing the urge to check and use your phone while driving.
  3. Be vigilant on the road. Take note of, and try and steer clear of, drivers that are on their phones.
  4. Be vocal and warn contacts and friends of the dangers if you should notice a selfie post of them whilst driving.
  5. Don’t post positive or encouraging feedback when you receive selfie pictures from friends. Many thrill seekers thrive on the attention they receive, and will go on to repeat their dangerous selfie stunts, often at a high safety cost to themselves and other road users.

Ends

Issued by:           Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare
Contact:               Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville, Pieter Rossouw or Alison Sharp
Telephone:        (011) 469 3016
Email:                   martina@mnapr.co.za, graeme@mnapr.co.za, meggan@mnapr.co.za, pieter@mnapr.co.za or alison@mnapr.co.za