Selfies: the latest danger for Illinois motorists

People often take selfies while driving, but engaging in this distracting behavior may lead to auto accidents, which may cause serious injuries or death.

The popularity of self-portraits, also known as selfies, is ever growing in Illinois, and elsewhere. People regularly take these types of photos at all times and in all types of places. In fact, CBS Interactive Inc. reported that 17 percent of the respondents in one survey admitted to taking photos, including selfies, while behind the wheel. A potentially dangerous distraction, this can result in collisions, which may cause serious injuries or death for those involved.

Recently, one motor vehicle accident involving a 29-year-old man who was taking a selfie while driving made national news. CBS News reported that the man ran his vehicle off of the road while attempting to take a selfie with his passengers. As a result, his vehicle struck a tree. At least four of his passengers suffered injuries in the auto accident, one of whom had to be hospitalized.

Distractions facing today's drivers

In general, any activities that divert drivers' attention away from the primary task of operating a motor vehicle is considered a distraction. This may include such behaviors as the following:

  • Texting, or otherwise using a cellphone
  • Eating or drinking
  • Primping or grooming
  • Adjusting the radio
  • Talking to passengers
  • Reading

Distraction.gov points out that distractions of all types pose a safety hazard for the distracted drivers themselves, as well as their passengers, the occupants of other vehicles and bystanders.

Driving distractions can generally be categorized as either manual, visual or cognitive distractions. Manual distractions take a driver's hands off of the wheel, while visual distractions are those that take their eyes off of the road. Cognitive, or mental distractions, on the other hand, are those that take a motorist's attention off of the primary task of driving.

Selfies as a distraction

Of the distractions facing today's motorists, selfies can be especially dangerous. This is because they involve all three types of distractions. In order to take a self-portrait, people must access the cameras on their cellphones, position their phones and snap the shot.

However, they often do not stop there. Many people go on to post their selfies to their social media accounts, even if they are driving. Therefore, they commonly have their eyes off of the road, hands off of the wheel and mind off of the task of driving for extended periods of time.

Working with an attorney

As a result of motor vehicle accidents, people in Illinois, and other localities, may suffer serious injuries or, in some cases, death. Those who are injured often require medical treatment, which may come with unexpected medical expenses. They may also lose wages while they are off of work to recover.

When drivers who were taking pictures, or were otherwise distracted, cause such accidents, however, they may be held liable. Thus, people who have experienced this type of situation may benefit from discussing their case with an attorney. A legal representative may help them to understand their rights, as well as explain their options for pursuing financial compensation.