New York ranks high for ‘driving selfies’ as DMV warns against them

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Auto Insurance Center says New York is one of the top ten states with people who post ‘selfies’ while driving. Now, the state is warning people of the dangers posed by driving selfies.

Selfies, which are photos taken of oneself, have posed a threat to New Yorkers, who rank eighth on the Auto Insurance Center’s list.

The ranking comes “in the wake of increasing social media activity,” according to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. Just weeks ago, state officials warned residents against playing the popular Pokémon Go game while driving.

New York State Police reminded drivers of the penalties of driving while using electronic devices. Although they said that shouldn’t be the only reason to keep drivers’ attention.

“If you’re holding it up to take a picture of yourself, we will see that, and we will stop you for it,” said New York State Trooper James O’Callaghan. “You’re looking for a $400-plus fine, five points on your license.

“Unfortunately, that shouldn’t be the deterrent. The deterrent should be you could kill somebody walking, running or jogging on the side of the road, you could injure someone else in a car accident or fatally injure yourself. People need to take the focus off themselves when they drive, and put the focus on those around them.”

“Smartphones can provide nearly limitless entertainment, but activities like taking selfies while driving are just irresponsible,” Terri Egan, DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner and GTSC Acting Chair, said. “A quick search of social media or local news reports across the country show that taking selfies and even live streaming are things motorists actually do behind the wheel, with some doing so on a repeat basis.”

Cell phone use is banned while driving in New York and 13 other states. In New York, this includes the following:

  • Holding a portable electronic device
  • Talking on a handheld mobile telephone
  • Composing, sending, reading, accessing, browsing, transmitting, saving, or retrieving electronic data such as e-mail, text messages, or websites
  • Viewing, taking, or transmitting images
  • Playing games

The DMV says that exceptions include the following:

  • When the driver uses a hands-free mobile telephone, which allows the user to communicate without the use of either hand
  • Using a handheld electronic device that is affixed to a vehicle surface
  • Using a GPS device that is attached to the vehicle
  • When the purpose of the phone call is to communicate an emergency to a police or fire department, a hospital or physician’s office, or an ambulance corps
  • When operating an authorized emergency vehicle in the performance of official duties

The danger posed by smartphone activities like taking selfies comes from where a driver’s eyes go. AAA says that when a driver takes a selfie, their eyes leave the road for at least two seconds, making the activity possibly even more dangerous than texting or talking while driving.

During the time it takes to take a selfie, a driver can travel 176 feet if moving at 60 MPH. To paint a picture, that is nearly the length of two basketball courts.

Videos can distract drivers for even longer amounts of time.

Egan says, “Whether it’s answering a short text, making a quick phone call, taking a photo, or catching Pokémon, it’s never a good idea to be distracted while driving. Keep your eyes on the road and put the phone down – it can wait!”

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