How Many People Have Been Killed While Taking a Selfie Behind the Wheel? Two.

Mark Stevenson
by Mark Stevenson

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?

Mark Stevenson
Mark Stevenson

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  • JimZ JimZ on Feb 02, 2016

    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.

    • See 1 previous
    • RideHeight RideHeight on Feb 03, 2016

      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.

  • Northeaster Northeaster on Feb 03, 2016

    I never regarded most of the opening scenes from "Six Feet Under" as particularly plausible. Until now.

  • Ronin Let's see the actuals first, then we can decide using science.What has been the effect of auto pollution levels since the 70s when pollution control devices were first introduced? Since the 80s when they were increased?How much has auto pollution specifically been reduced since the introduction of hybrid vehicles? Of e-vehicles?We should well be able to measure the benefits by now, by category of engine. We shouldn't have to continue to just guess the benefits. And if we can't specifically and in detail measure the benefits by now, it should make a rational person wonder if there really are any real world benefits.
  • TheEndlessEnigma Simply put, I like it.
  • TheEndlessEnigma Ah GM, never stop being you. GM is working hard to make FIAT look good.
  • TheEndlessEnigma Top Gear of the 2000's was a fresh concept and very well done. Sadly to say there isn't a TV show concept that doesn't eventually exhaust fresh ideas and, as a result, begins to rehash and wear out once were fresh ideas. The show eventually becomes a pale imitation of itself, then begins to embarrass itself, it will get to a point where it jumps the shark. Top Gear began to get stale, the Clarkson, Hammond and May left and the formula failed - surprise! the presenters were part of the magic. Fast forward many years and Grand Tower is trying hard to be Top Gear but it's all very obviously scripted (it always was by felt spontaneous in its original form), Clarkson, Hammond and May are much older, tired and have become caricatures of themselves. Guys, just stop. You should have stopped 10 years ago. Now you're just screwing with your reputations and legacies.
  • FreedMike Kudos to Toyota for making a legitimately slick looking piece (particularly in metallic cherry red). But PHEVs seem like a very narrow niche to me. Yes, the concept is cool - if you play your cards right you never have to fill up with gas, and the gas engine means you don't have to worry about charging facilities - but the operative words are "if you play your cards right." And PHEVs have all the drawbacks of EVs - spotty charging availability, decreased range in cold conditions, and higher price. Personally, I'd opt for a non plug-in Prius and use the plug-in money to upgrade the trim level. It's slower, but even the base Prius performs roughly on par with a Corolla or Civic, so it's not a dog anymore. But who buys a Prius to go fast in the first place? If I wanted to "go gas free," I'd just buy a BEV. YMMV, of course.