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Study ranks California as most likely place for ‘terrifying practice’ of driver selfies

Ever since the mobile phone was invented, folks the world over have found the temptation to check their device while driving too hard to resist.

Indeed, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says that at any given moment during daylight hours in the U.S., more than 600,000 people are using handsets while motoring along in their car.

They might be texting or chatting to a buddy, playing a game, or checking their social media feeds. They may also be taking selfies. In the driving seat.

In a bid to learn more about these phone-fiddling drivers, and to discover where in the country most of these road-based selfies take place, the Auto Insurance Center decided to conduct some research into what it calls “this terrifying practice.”

Combing through more than 70,000 Instagram posts with driving-related hashtags such as #DrivingSelfie, #SelfieWhileDriving, and, if you can believe it, #HopeIDontCrash, the researchers looked at available location data and found that smartphone users in California, Nevada, Florida, and Hawaii posted the most driver selfies. Those in Minnesota, Missouri, Arkansas, and Wisconsin, meanwhile, posted the least.

Offering an explanation as to why those particular four states topped the chart, the researchers commented: “Thanks to Vegas’s slot machines and the sunny beaches of California, Florida, and Hawaii, all four are popular vacation destinations. It appears fun-filled road trips may fuel some drivers’ desires to share duck face snaps with their Insta followers.”

Related: Video study shows perils of using the smartphone behind the wheel

The study adds that having looked at the words that most often appear alongside Instagram driving posts, the motivation behind their actions becomes clear. “People are having fun, as words like ‘road trip,’ ‘travel,’ and ‘California’ indicate – and they want to share that fun with their social media followers.”

However, the analysis also presents the flip side: “Chillingly, the people behind the happy messages and smiling photos just may be on the path to destroy their lives – or someone else’s.”

On the broader issue of distracted driving, researchers recently focused on a Florida highway to see how many drivers were failing to give their full attention to the road ahead. Check out their alarming findings here.

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