Taking a video of your group of friends singing along to the radio as you drive, or taking a selfie? You are posing a very real risk to motorists and other road users. Mande Toubkin, general manager at Netcare, notes: “The popular #drivingtowork and #drivinghome hashtags that many use to post pictures of themselves on social media while driving may seem harmless, however, taking your eyes off the road for just a few seconds can potentially end in tragedy.”
She adds that the busier the road is (for example during peak hours when people are driving home), the more unpredictable the circumstances become. This makes snapping a photo or taking a video particularly dangerous.
“Even though most of us have heeded the warning of not texting while 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,” Toubkin warns.
While it is often difficult to determine how many accidents are a result of selfie-related behaviour, death via selfie continues to increase. According to MIT Technology Review, 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. 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 points out.
Driving demands the driver’s full attention. Numerous deaths are caused by distracted driving. Toubkin notes: “Ultimately, we want to make drivers aware that talking, texting, checking social media and selfie posts while driving are all adding to the already high road accident statistics on South African roads.”
Rather ignore your phone while driving and discourage people from interacting with you via social media when driving. You don’t want your driving selfies to be the last thing you post.