LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — Oxford Dictionary recently announced that its 2013 word of the year is “selfie.”

That’s “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website,” in case you were curious.

And apparently, drivers are liking what they see in those vanity mirrors. Selfies are the hot new trend in distracted driving, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Twitter and Instagram have no shortage of photos (easily found by searching things like #drivingselfie, #drivingfast, #drivingtowork, etc.) that illustrate the behavior.

AAA breaks the danger down into numbers, noting that a driver going 60 miles per hour takes their eyes off the road for the length of half a football field assuming it takes them just two seconds to snap a photo.

Meanwhile, filming a six-second Vine video distracts the same driver for the length of 1.5 football fields, and filming a 15-second Instagram video distracts them for the length of nearly four football fields.

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says 12 percent of people killed as the result of distracted driving in 2011 (385 people total) were involved in crashes where at least one of the drivers was using a cell phone at the time.

However, a study released earlier this year suggests that distracted driving deaths are underreported.

“We believe the number of crashes involving cellphone use is much greater than what is being reported,” Janet Foetscher, the National Safety Council’s president and CEO, told the Associated Press.

“Many factors, from drivers not admitting cellphone use to a lack of consistency in crash reports being used to collect data at the scene, make it very challenging to determine an accurate number.”

In D.C. and Maryland, it’s illegal to operate a phone without a hands-free device while driving. In Virginia, drivers younger than 18 are banned from cell phone use with or without a hands-free device. Texting-while-driving is illegal in all three jurisdictions.


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