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Be Careful: Selfies Could Mean Crashes

Casper, Meadows, Schwartz & Cook

Have you ever heard the word "selfie" used in common discourse? If you have not, you are not missing out. The term is a new one that is commonly thrown out in discussions among teens. In fact, Oxford Dictionaries notes that the use of the term has jumped 17,000 percent over the past 12 months.

Oxford Dictionaries explains that a selfie is a photograph that a person takes of oneself. The snapshot is often executed with a smartphone or webcam and subsequently uploaded to a social media website. The pictures are often paired with a duck-like expression on the subject's face.

However, safety advocates around the country are not concerned about the use of the word. They are worried about the rising occurrence of selfies that are taken behind the wheel of a car. According to an AAA analyst, "Selfies are a relatively new phenomenon so we don't have [traffic accident] data specifically related to selfies, but we do know any use of cellphones [behind the wheel] increases crash risk." Unfortunately, teens are making a habit of selfies while driving.

Despite the lack of statistics, a brief review of hashtags labeling such dangerous selfies, which are shared on social media networks, is enough proof to raise concerns. Moreover, when a motorist takes a selfie while operating a vehicle, the person's hands, sight and mental attention are lifted from the task of driving.

Experts say removing one's attention from the road - even for a few moments - increases the risk of a car accident. Also, some motorists are taking not only selfie pictures, but also selfie videos while driving. These last more than just a couple of seconds, placing drivers and other vehicles at serious risk.

Even if the vehicle is not moving, this does not mean a selfie is okay while operating the car. There is a misconception that attention is not required on the road at stoplights or stop signs. However, this is not true. A motorist's concentration should be on the road every time the engine is on and keys are clicked in the ignition. A driver's reaction may be required in an emergency. If one is focused on something else, he or she could be the cause of an accident.

Many states in the U.S., including California, have prohibitions against cellphone use behind the wheel. In fact, using a phone to take a selfie is technically illegal in the state if the individual is driving. This is because motorists are prohibited from using handheld devices while operating a vehicle.

In time, safety advocates hope that the selfie fad will ultimately dissipate. If you believe that you have been harmed in an accident as a result of a driver's negligence or inattentiveness, you should seek legal assistance. A professional can help you access your options for legal recourse.