AAA News Release: 11/18/2013


Dangerous Distractions Behind the Wheel


Drivers Shooting Video, Taking ‘Selfies’ While Driving


WASHINGTON, D. C.  (Monday, November 18, 2013) They are striking a pose while driving. This is the latest dangerous distracted driving behavior that’s cropping up on the highway and what is trending as thousands of young drivers share photos and videos of themselves in the act of driving. Yes, you read that correctly, people are taking pictures and videos of themselves while they are driving.


On social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram there are millions of driving photos and videos, but looking closely at hashtags such as #drivingselfie, #drivingfast, #drivingtowork, #rainx and #drivingintherain reveal particularly dangerous distracted driving behaviors, warns AAA Mid-Atlantic. In some photos the speedometer is plainly visible and shows that the vehicle is moving, the auto club notes.   


The hashtag category called #rainx includes videos of people holding their phones to the windshield while driving in the rain in order to see the beading of rain produced by using the product Rainx. In some cases, the driver lowers the phone enough to see the speedometer, which shows that the vehicle is moving at nearly 70 miles per hour while the driver is distracted.


“The number one activity that should be occurring while you are behind the wheel is driving,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “Hundreds of thousands of people are injured each year as a result of distracted driving and these injuries and deaths are entirely preventable. Put the camera down and wait until you arrive at a safe destination. Don’t let that driving selfie or video be the last photo you ever take.”


Self-portraits have been making history for hundreds of years from the early works ofLeonardo Da Vinci andDiego Velázquez to the more recent works of Frida Kahlo. However, while these self-portraits were created on still ground, this trend is deadly to drivers and those around them. It is a sign of the times and one of the most dangerous activities a driver can do, but it is especially hazardous for the young and inexperienced drivers engaging in this activity, warns AAA Mid-Atlantic.


Approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving during daylight hours, according to the latest National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) for the year 2011. Further, in 2011, “Of those people killed in distraction-affected crashes, 385 died in crashes in which at least one of the drivers was using a cell phone (12% of fatalities in distraction-affected crashes) at the time of the crash.”


Let’s do the math. There are 5,280 feet in one mile. If a vehicle is traveling 60 miles per hour it goes 316,800 feet per hour. One hour has 3,600 seconds, so 316,800/3,600 is 88 feet per second. Twitter allows a maximum of 6 seconds of video while Instagram allows a maximum of 15 seconds.


A driver taking a video with a length of six seconds is not paying full attention to driving for a total of 528 feet while a driver taking a video with a length of 15 seconds is not paying full attention to driving for a total of 1,320 feet. A driver taking a photo for approximately two seconds takes their eyes off of the road for 176 feet. For comparison, a regulation NBA basketball court is 94 feet, a regulation FIFA soccer field is 300 feet and an NFL football field is 360 feet.


Inattention Comparison At 60 MPH



Basketball Court Length (94 feet)

Minimum Soccer Field Length

(300 feet)

Football Field Length

(360 feet)

2 second photo





6 second video





15 second video






A driver taking a photo for approximately two seconds takes their eyes off of the road for nearly two basketball courts, nearly half a football field, or over half a soccer field. A driver filming a six second video while driving 60 mph is not paying attention to the road for over 5.5 basketball court lengths, nearly two soccer fields or 1.5 football fields. A driver filming a 15 second video while driving 60 mph is not paying attention to the road for over 14 basketball court lengths, nearly 4.5 soccer fields or nearly 4 football fields.


In the District of Columbia and Maryland it is illegal to operate a phone without a hands-free device. In Maryland and Virginia, drivers younger than 18 are also banned from cell phone use with or without a hands-free device. In the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia it is illegal to text while driving. Both Maryland and Virginia made changes to their texting while driving laws in 2013.  



AAA Mid-Atlantic advocates on behalf of its nearly four million members in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. It provides a wide range of personal insurance, travel, financial and automotive services through its 50-plus retail branches, regional operations centers, and the Internet.  For more information, please visit our web site at .   


Contact: John B. Townsend II or Lon Anderson
Phone: (202) 481-6820 ext. 62100

Contact: Jeanette Tejeda de Gomez