Hashtags are used to sort posts on social media, allowing people to label them so that other users can search through those labels. The Auto Insurance Center noticed that people tended to use specific hashtags if they were taking pictures or selfies while driving. To see how many drivers were distracted, they went through and counted up the amount of different hashtags that were used.
The study found that using Instagram behind the wheel was a serious distraction, and it’s only getting worse. In 2014, they found 13,802 driving-related hashtags. By 2015, it jumped to 32,376. In 2016, it hit a new high of 71,856, a startling jump in just 12 months.
The numbers suggest that 2017 could be even worse. Through April, there were 22,690 driving-related hashtags. That’s just about 10,000 less than there were in all of 2015. If that trend continues for the rest of the year, it’s on pace to pass the previous high set in 2016 and just keep rising.
Hashtags considered included things like #DrivingSelfie, #HopeIDon’tCrash, and #SelfieWhileDriving. While some of these may have been used jokingly — perhaps by a passengers taking a picture and making it look like he or she was driving — they still suggest a significant amount of phone use behind the wheel. Plus, the rising numbers show that it’s more of a risk every year.
Distracted driving used to mean talking on the phone, then texting and now includes all manner of cellphone-related activities. When these distracted drivers cause accidents, it’s critical for those who are hurt to know all of their legal options.