Johannesburg - While popular social media trends have left many with the constant need to remain online, especially youngsters, motorists are being cautioned against the growing trend of taking selfies while driving.
An expert warns that while new trends encouraging drivers to update followers of their activities to and from work seemed harmless, taking one’s eyes off the road has its dangers.
“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,” Mande Toubkin, Netcare’s general manager emergency, trauma, transplant and corporate social investment, warned.
“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."
Toubkin warned that motorists caught in the trend need to realise the danger they’re placing, not just themselves, but others in.
Furthermore, while accidents resulting from these activities was difficult to determine, deaths resulting from this trend are reportedly on the rise.
“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 1120 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.”
Toubkin offered tips to help minimise selfie-related road accidents, some of which include educating motorists on the dangers of taking selfies while driving and encouraging vigilance while on the road.
Other tips include:
Investigate possible distracted driver apps that will assist you in preventing the urge to check and use your phone while driving.
Be vocal and warn contacts and friends of the dangers if you should notice a selfie post of them whilst driving.
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.
“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.