By on February 2, 2016


Or, at least, that’s what this nifty, little, easily digestible graph from Priceonomics would lead you to believe.

The often utilized and equally abhorred selfie, the act of recording a moment in time of thyself, has been directly linked to the deaths of two people while driving, according to news reports compiled by Priceonomics. That pales in comparison to the 16 people who’ve fallen from great heights to their deaths in their personal quests to capture that perfect MySpace-esque profile pic.

Or, you know, impaired driving deaths.

To its credit, Priceonomics does give us a disclaimer:

This is by no means a conclusive study (there are, no doubt, unreported cases), but it still gives us a visage into both the scope of the issue, and those who are affected by it.

The website used the last three years of news archives via Google News and Wikipedia as its dataset. What its author found: of the 49 reported selfie-caused deaths, 73.5 percent of those killed were male (which surprises me considering my own Snapchat feed) and the average age of those killed was 21 (not surprising considering my own Snapchat feed).

But, this is a bit granular, isn’t it?

Consider this instead: In 2013, distracted driving — which includes eating, texting, talking on the phone, talking to other people in the car, changing the radio station and thinking about that amazing teenage sex you’re about to have so you better get there quick before Billy finds out Nancy really, really likes him — was the leading cause of death amongst teen drivers … supposedly. Even reputable sources contradict each other on this.

Instead, let’s just go with one number from the U.S. Department of Transportation that includes all people killed by distracted driving in all age groups in 2013: 3,154. That number is actually down from a year prior, which scored 3,328 distracted driving deaths — of which the humble selfie might make up a total of two.

And yet, impaired driving is way, way more likely to kill you. In the same year as those 3,154 distracted driving deaths, 10,076 people lost their lives in crashes with someone with a BAC above 0.08 behind the wheel. We don’t have numbers on how many of those deaths were caused by Pabst Blue Ribbon, but that would be about the impaired driving equivalent of a selfie death.

Let’s forget the selfie stat though and focus on the bigger numbers, because they do raise a couple of questions: 1) Why does the government have an entire website devoted to distracted driving awareness and not impaired driving awareness? And, 2) why can’t we have more people like Whitney Beall of Lakeland, Florida so we can nail more people for driving doubly dirty?

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17 Comments on “How Many People Have Been Killed While Taking a Selfie Behind the Wheel? Two....”

  • avatar

    “Why does the government have an entire website devoted to distracted driving awareness and not impaired driving awareness?”

    In any case, the low-hanging fruit on the DUI tree has already been picked. The rate of DUI fatalities as a percentage of total vehicle fatalities has been relatively flat for years.

    That needle probably won’t move because many of the crashes are caused by serious drinkers/alcoholics who aren’t going to stop until they hit bottom and dry out, are imprisoned or die.

    Device distraction is a whole new thing, and they’re hoping that they can educate people to stop before it becomes a lifelong addiction. But that is doomed to fail — the only thing that might work is to figure out a way to shame people into changing their behavior, as MADD did when it began. Peer pressure matters more than data or videos of bloody traffic accidents.

    • 0 avatar

      I think that some headway could be made if cell phone call data (times and duration, not content) were automatically obtainable by authorities in the event of an accident involving moving vehicles, something like the requirement to submit to a breathalyzer test. If drivers know that they can be held accountable for cell phone use while driving, maybe at least some of them will wait to look at and answer the text message until they’ve stopped.

      • 0 avatar

        But how are you going to find out what they are doing on their phone of they aren’t calling? Phone calls and sms texts, leave records, but Snapchat and any kind of messaging service doesn’t leave a record, nor should it.

        • 0 avatar

          You don’t need to know specific information, you just need to know if the phone sent data non-passively immediately before the crash.

          • 0 avatar

            There may be communication channels that don’t leave a trail, but even if only text and voice were tracked I think it would have a positive effect on drivers once a couple of well publicized cases of significant penalties made the news.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Selfie vs impaired driving blah blah blah. What I want to know about is how two people died from grenades while taking selfies.

  • avatar

    I shoot feature length movies behind the wheel.

    No fatalities.

  • avatar

    Heights: Yeah, makes sense.

    Drowning: I’m not really sure how this can happen, but drowning isn’t too difficult, so I can see that.

    Train: At first I thought this was for people operating a train… which seems like it shouldn’t be a situation where one can normally suffer an accidental fatality. The examples given though are of people riding on top of trains or standing in front of trains, which makes a whole lot more sense.

    Gunshot: Surprised there aren’t more of these.

    Grenade: Apparently this was two teens in Russia. Don’t play with military hardware kids.

    Plane Crash: This also seems hard to do, I mean, why not just fly in a straight line? How do you kill yourself in this situation? I’m guessing there were multiple bad decisions involved here.

    Animal: Surprised there aren’t more of these too.

  • avatar

    Bet they were snapping, I’ll admit, I’ve done it plenty.

  • avatar

    I can’t understand this culture of narcissism we’ve become. I do everything possible to keep myself out of the front of cameras, but we’ve got a bunch of idiot kids who think the entire world needs to know they went somewhere, and we’re desperate to see their stupid faces in front of it.

    • 0 avatar
      Mr. Monte

      Heck, many adults over 30 that I know do that mess as well. Facebook shows, I was at Wendy’s at 1:05 getting a Frosty, Macy’s at 2:25 getting a new shirt all with pics……So annoying.

    • 0 avatar

      It doesn’t take a digital village to be an idiot, it just makes it more fun.

      But since these are the kids who in an earlier age would’ve just been pocked-marked cannon fodder or brood mares, I’m not seeing any overall degeneration.

  • avatar

    I never regarded most of the opening scenes from “Six Feet Under” as particularly plausible.

    Until now.

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