Park & Click: Taking Safe & Stylish Car Selfies

August 04, 2014

Selfies are spontaneous by design. No special lighting, no mascara touch-ups – not even a stranger to hold the camera.

It’s just reach, point, shoot and post to social media. Red eyes, chopped off ears and bad hair days are usually excused.

And while the average shopping mall or sidewalk selfie is fairly harmless, car or driving selfies are another story.

Apologies for the buzz kill, but driving selfies can not only pack fines and cause accidents that jack up car insurance rates, but they can be fatal, too. Heck, they have been fatal. Countless photos of drivers posing with one hand on the camera and zero eyes on the road litter Instagram and Twitter, appearing as potential courtroom exhibits down the road.

Are car selfies legal?

The safest and most law-abiding car or driving selfie is done with the vehicle in park. Period. Heck, having two hands and total focus allows helps you drive your best – and look your best behind the wheel.

AAA research shows that shooting a photo in a mere two second while driving means that your eyes aren’t looking at the road for more than 50 yards– or half a football field. A lot can happen in that distance: a car whips around a sharp curve, a deer darts in front of you or your celebrity crush has broken down on the shoulder and is hitching a ride. You could miss them all.

But if you really want to know if car selfies are legal, that answer is complicated: it depends. You’ll want to carefully check your state laws, but even then there is some gray area. Some states outlaw any use of a wireless phone that is not done through a hands-free device. This includes taking pictures. Other states specify that violations are specific to texting or emails. But let’s be honest, what action most often immediately follows snapping a pic with a smart phone? Emailing, texting or posting it to social media, right?

Can car selfies impact my car insurance rates?

You better believe it. Taking car selfies can impact your auto insurance rate because they’re a leading cause of distracted driving, which can lead to accidents ranging from fender benders to much more serious incidents.

In fact, 10 percent of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were distracted during the accident.

Additionally, again depending on state law, simply being viewed by law enforcement operating a wireless phone while driving can lead to a traffic stop, a citation and fine, and a spike to auto insurance rates.

How do you take a sweet car selfie?

OK, we’ve delivered our public service announcement. Now it’s time for us to play car selfie critic.

There are many times when you may feel compelled to snap a quick shot of yourself when you’re behind the wheel but before you put the key in the ignition. Maybe it’s your first day at a new job, or you’re on a cross-country road trip with some friends. Perhaps it’s your first time in your new car. Or you could just look really good today.

Let’s critique a few driving selfies found on social media:

Car Selfies: The Statue (@JennVance02)

This shot gets high marks for many reasons. While there is some light peeping in from the driver’s side window, it casts a nice bronze glow across the driver’s face. Everything is framed up perfectly and the stoic, statuesque pose exudes a subtle confidence. You don’t always need to smile. Bonus points for the fact that we can’t tell if she’s actually driving; we’ll assume she’s in the driveway still.

 

Car Selfies: The Dude (@RealPreetMani)

Car Selfie DudeThis driver rushed his car selfie and needs a reshoot. He cuts off his face by failing to find the right angle to hold his smartphone, and the rear windshield is awash in distracting light. Either he’s driving on the sun or need to reshoot under the cover of shade. This shot sure is tough… tough to look at.

 

This guy is definitely driving while shooting – potentially at a high speed. By opting for the profile view, he’s diverting his eyes off the road for about five seconds, give or take. But I don’t think he’s counting, or cares. Hopefully it’s a deserted stretch of road and he has a steady hand. This is how unintentional off-roading happens. Here’s hoping he has mud tires, AAA, a sense of humor and a good enough memory to keep this from occurring again.

 

Car Selfies: The Clown Car

Clown CarSee the packed car and smiling faces? These bandmates ironically go by the name “In Hindsight,” which could precede an opinion on the decision-making that led to this shot, i.e., “In hindsight, that was a poor choice.” It’s hard to tell who’s driving, why everyone is screaming, what’s going on with the car’s floppy top or really anything else in this chaotic snapshot. At least one guy is wearing a seatbelt. Let the good times roll… until they screech to a halt.

 

 

Car Selfies: The Cowboy

Cowboy SelfieThis guy is definitely driving while shooting – potentially at a high speed. By opting for the profile view, he’s diverting his eyes off the road for about five seconds, give or take. But I don’t think he’s counting, or cares. Hopefully it’s a deserted stretch of road and he has a steady hand. This is how unintentional off-roading happens. Here’s hoping he has mud tires, AAA, a sense of humor and a good enough memory to keep this from occurring again.

Car Selfies: Final take

We don’t want to be the fun police. Car selfies are fun diversions to share with friends and post on social media. We totally get it. They’re also wildly popular, claiming thousands of posts on Instagram, Twitter and their own Buzzfeed article.

 

But unless you have a stunt double, we recommend shooting driving selfies before you’re driving. Now let’s see if we can make #ParkedSelfies a popular hashtag…

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