Road safety officials criticise ‘selfie’ craze among drivers

It’s the latest driving craze — and it’s almost certain to cost lives.

Drivers have been taking ‘selfies’ — photographs of themselves with their mobile phones — and posting them on picture sharing site Instagram.

There are already over 3m posts on Instagram tagged with “#driving”, nearly 50,000 with “#drivinghome”, over 9,000 tagged “#drivingtowork”, and more than 3,500 tagged “#drivingselfie”.

Car manufacturer Toyota recently launched an advertisement in the US in a bid to combat the dangerous pastime. Containing the tagline “Don’t Shoot and Drive”, it is aimed specifically at people taking photos of themselves while driving. The ad shows a car accident through several of the popular Instagram filters.

The campaign was sparked by some outrageous photographs taken by mostly young motorists while driving. One man even posted a picture of himself wearing a horse’s head.

Research by the Road Safety Authority shows driver distraction is thought to play a role in 20%-30% of all road collisions. Distraction is caused by a competing activity, event or object from inside or outside the vehicle.

Almost 40% of Irish drivers report using their mobile phone at least sometimes while driving and it is estimated that, at any given moment during the day, between 2% and 6% of drivers are using a mobile phone.

Drivers are four times more likely to have a crash when using a mobile phone and gardaí and road safety officials are now reminding motorists that it is against the law, with a fine of up to €2,000 awaiting anyone caught in the act.

Road safety officer Noel Gibbons said the latest craze was a deeply worrying development.

“It is a life endangering practice and it’s especially risky for young, inexperienced drivers, who are already extremely vulnerable to crashes, to be distracted when they are behind the wheel.

“Answering a call or reading a text, or attempting to take a picture of yourself while driving, is never worth the loss of a life,” said Mr Gibbons.


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