Selfie in carIn an alarming new distracted-driving trend, many young drivers are using their smartphone cameras to take “selfies” behind the wheel. The term refers to self-portraits, but the trend also includes drivers taking photos of others in the vehicle, or of scenery outside the car, notes Heather Kelly for CNN.

Kelly goes on to write that, despite the risk of getting into an accident — or even getting caught by authorities — selfie-shooting drivers appear to be unabashed about what they’re doing:

Idiotic? Maybe so, but these self-portrait artists aren’t shy about sharing their photos. Instagram shows more than 3,727 posts under the #drivingselfie hashtag, more than 1,869 for the plural #drivingselfies, and more than 9,700 for #drivingtowork. Some users add the optimistic tag, #Ihopeidontcrash.

On Twitter, a search for “driving selfie” turns up hundreds of images.

Using a hand-held phone while driving (and after all, the cameras these drivers use are in their phones) is illegal under many state laws, Kelly points out. In Colorado, a law went into effect on December 1, 2009, banning the use of cell phones for drivers under the age of 18 at all times, according to Alive at 25. The law, House Bill 09-1094, also bans texting, emailing, and tweeting for all drivers. It allows drivers ages 18 and older to use cell phones with hands-free devices only.

There is an effort to prevent this dangerous behavior. As Mex Cooper writes in The Age, Toyota, in response to the selfies trend, has created an ad composed of Instagram-filtered images of a car crash, with the message “Don’t shoot and drive.”

Two months ago, TMZ posted a video that teenager Kendall Jenner, of the reality show “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” made of herself while driving her Range Rover, as this blog reported on September 11. TMZ reported that the then-17-year-old was “barely keeping her eyes on the road” at the time, adding, “Here’s the thing… it’s a dumb, dangerous, reckless move for any teenager (or person [of any age] for that matter) to do while driving.”

As Brendaliss Gonzalez writes for, for a driver to take his or her eyes off the road for even five seconds puts him or her at risk of an accident: “If a driver is traveling at a speed of 55 mph, that’s equivalent to driving the distance of an entire football field while blindfolded.”

With many young people making light of this behavior, Jackie Gillan, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, emphasizes the seriousness of the risk. Kelly writes:

The ridiculousness of the trend may seem amusing, especially to the people posting the images, but safety advocates warn the potential for injury and death is very real.

‘Driving is a really serious thing,’ said Gillan. ‘Can you imagine if a pilot crashed and we found out that people in the cockpit were taking selfies? People would be appalled.’

Here is the Kendall Jenner video selfie that TMJ posted in September:

Image by sunshinecity, used under its Creative Commons license.

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