By Adriana Gallina*
Everyone knows the dangers of texting while driving. An average text consumes about five seconds of a driver’s attention and at 55 mph, a driver can travel the length of a football field without even looking at the road.
But there is less attention paid to the phenomenon of #VloggingWhileDriving which is made ‘easy’ with smartphone applications, like SnapChat. This ‘video blogging’ while driving craze is anything but new. It has been around almost as long as YouTube itself. A simple Google search will show more than 1 million hits of drivers vlogging.
Some, vloggers like MsJessicaFacee on Youtube, seem to think vlogging while driving poses no threat at all. She can be seen taking her eyes off the road almost 20 times within the first 20 seconds of her video, “Vlogging While Driving Is Not ILLEGAL.” “I even have both hands on the wheel,” she justified at the beginning of her over six minute video, filmed entirely in motion. Despite her hands on the wheel safety disclaimer, at some points in the video she does remove at least one hand entirely from the wheel, like when she films her cat which is sitting directly on her lap. She also holds her phone/camera in her hand while she drives. But this phenomenon is much bigger than one video and one vlogger.
The Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a study that states every day nine people die and 1,153 people are injured in crashes where distraction is reported as the cause (and, this number is vastly under-reported). That is almost equal to the amount of people who subscribe to MsJessicaFacee’s Youtube Channel. According to the CDC, there are three main types of distraction: visual, taking your eyes off the road; manual, taking your hands off the wheel; and cognitive, taking your mind off of driving. Vlogging while driving can cause a driver to commit all three of these modes of distraction.
Many vloggers have invested in camera holders for their dashboard or windshield and claim that this hands-free way to vlog and drive make it safe, no more distracting than having a conversation while driving.
However, handsfree does not make the activity safe. Studies continue to show that simply reducing a manual distraction, like, holding the cell phone or camera for example, does nothing to reduce the cognitive distraction. When trying to focus on driving and vlogging or texting, drivers can experience cognitive overload. This multi-tasking can use 37 percent of the brain’s resources needed for safe driving. For more on “Hands Free” vs “Risk Free” driving, click here.
Not to mention, when this contraption is attached to the windshield, it obstructs the driver’s view. Even when the camera is attached to the dashboard, the vlogger is often busy making eye contact with their audience or too focused on getting their good side, rather than focused on the road, speed limit, other drivers and pedestrians.
Despite there being no explicit law against vlogging, there are laws in 14 states that prohibit use of a mobile phone for all drivers and 38 states that prohibit phone use by novice drivers. Many vloggers, especially driving vloggers use their phones to film their videos. There are precedents being set against all types of distracted driving.
In January, a mother in Oregon who filmed her child while driving struck three teens on a crosswalk. While they thankfully all survived, they all sustained broken bones and injuries according to KGW News. She struck the teenagers less than one and half seconds after the video ended. She is now being charged with three counts of Assault III, five counts of reckless endangerment and one count of reckless driving, according to KOIN 6.
This is not just a problem in America. United Kingdom Police have recently admonished famous vlogger Zoella, real name Zoe Sugg, for her video “Pug Party!”, in which she takes her eyes off the road at least six times while driving. Metropolitan Police told Now magazine: “She could have killed someone. How can anyone who has their eyes off the road for that amount of time be in complete control of a vehicle?”
Vlog driving is distracted driving. Tweet us @ENDD_End_Distracted_Driving about what you think of #VloggingWhileDriving
* Adriana Gallina is currently studying Journalism and Creative Writing at Fordham University on a scholarship. She is the News Editor of Fordham Lincoln Center’s award winning paper, The Fordham Observer, while working full time to support herself in New York City.