Driving While Filming: Social Media’s Dangerous Trend

driving while filming

We all know that it’s dangerous to text or check an email while you’re driving. That’s been a well-known fact for over a decade. But what about other forms of distracted driving?

Recently, I’ve been scrolling through TikTok, a popular app where people share videos that are under one minute long. It’s a really easy app to get sucked into, but after a while I noticed a lot of videos in which the user is driving a car.

These types of videos are hardly new – I saw a lot of them on Snapchat in its heyday – but I’ve always wondered why no one comments on how dangerous the behavior is.

Distracted Driving

Any type of distracted driving is risky. Looking down at your phone for five seconds to send a quick text is like driving the length of a football field blindfolded, and taking your eyes off the road for only two seconds doubles the chance that you will be involved in a crash.

An average of nine people are killed every day in the United States because of distracted driving, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And one in five people who are killed due to distracted driving are pedestrians. This means that when you text or look at your phone while you’re driving, you’re not just risking your own life. You’re risking the lives and safety of everyone around you.

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There are three types of distracted driving: visual, manual and cognitive. Visual distraction is when something causes you to take your eyes off the road. It could be something like glancing at your phone, looking at houses on the side of the street or trying to find your favorite song on the radio. Manual distraction is when you take one or both of your hands off the wheel for any reason. Cognitive distraction is when your mind is so distracted by something that you’re not even thinking about driving anymore, you’re just going through the motions. Have you ever arrived at a location with no memory of driving there? That was cognitive distraction.

Teens and young adults are especially at risk of distracted driving. More than half of teen drivers have admitted to using their phone while driving, and more than a quarter of them said that they have sent a text message while driving within the past 30 days.

Driving Safely

Drivers who have been in at least one crash within the past two years are more likely to engage in distracted driving behaviors, like texting or talking on the phone, according to a 2020 study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Even those who hadn’t recently been in a crash admitted to driving in ways that they felt were dangerous.

Holding a phone to film yourself while driving is extremely dangerous – it combines visual, manual and cognitive distraction. In 2015, police said an Oregon woman hit and injured three teenagers with her car while she was filming a 19-second video on her cell phone.

But giving your phone to your passenger or mounting it somewhere on your dashboard can be equally distracting. In a 2020 YouTube video, influencer Emma Chamberlain, who has almost 10 million subscribers, films herself driving from Los Angeles to San Diego. Over the course of the 19-minute video, “ROADTRIP TO SF *i cried*,” Chamberlain takes her eyes off the road and makes direct eye contact with the camera about 128 times. At one point, the camera falls off of the dashboard and Chamberlain tries to retrieve it while she’s still driving. “Everybody behind me probably thinks that I’m drunk by the way that I’m driving,” she laughs.

If you’re filming a video, you’re putting yourself in performance mode, and you aren’t able to concentrate on the road in front of you. While your hands might be on the wheel, you’re still engaging in visual and cognitive distraction. If you still want to film a video in your car, you can always keep the car parked.

AAA recommends keeping your phone out of sight while driving. Stow your smartphone away, turn it to airplane mode, or activate call/text blocking features like Apple’s Do Not Disturb.

How do you resist using your phone while driving? Let us know in the comments below. 


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8 Thoughts on “Driving While Filming: Social Media’s Dangerous Trend

  1. A seemingly neverending stream of tiktok lives come across my “for you” involving fully laden semi trucks in heavy traffic going hwy speeds, while on the platform. I’ve alerted tiktok on countless occasions about this dangerous trend. 1 out of every 10 will they take any action. These drivers are focused more on reading comments, interacting with the users, and watching live video, than they are with operating the vehicle safely and paying attention to the road. Somebody is going to lose their life because of tiktok’s apathy. I am a veteran of the trucking industry with over 2 decades safe operation on my record. I can’t imagine engaging in such reckless behavior while the publics’ safety depends on me. At 70mph it takes a fully.loaded tractor trailer 3 football fields to come to a complete stop. And that’s if the driver sees the hazard at all. Distracted driving is illegal in all 50 states and the fmcsa explicitly bans watching streaming video while driving. The practice currently violates tiktoks terms of service. Tiktok is just afraid to enforce the policy.

  2. What about drivers distracted by pets in the car? I have witnessed a driver with a small dog in her lap as she drove, for example. Even pets in the back seat are a distraction.

  3. Tik Tok is not the problem. People who use it when they shouldn’t are the problem. “It’s not my fault; it ______.”

  4. The allure of the phone has taken over our lives, with the insatiable need to be known and to be approved of. Today it is almost impossible to live a day or a hour or even a minute without the eyes of the world peering into our soul and we into their’s, it’s the dangerous norm. As the writer has said, it has long been adopted into our culture as the thing to do (Snapchat and other social media platform). I struggle for a long time not to text, talk and fiddle with the phone, but to be forthcoming, isn’t this a trend that has long deep into the rush culture? Drinking hot beverage on the way to the office, putting on makeup, fiddling with the radio, writing, reading, watching tv were all a part of the rushed society. It just has multiply to a dangerous level. Father please help us. Give us all wisdom to stop the falling, amen.

  5. A few dramatic lawsuits against TikTok and similar from the appropriate authorities or family members who have lost loved ones in crashes should improve this issue.

    As for in-car phone use, let’s stop the drama. There’s little wrong with using Android Auto, Google Carplay, and other navigators to help your safe journey, but anything else that encourages distractions is a must not. Make this a key part of driver safety programs and driver education. You can’t stop kids from being stupid but you can certainly do a better job to teach them it’s wrong.

  6. My life is far too valuable to loose it due to carelessness. Therefore, I have hard and fast rules that I have gone by for decades: (1) ignition does not start until seatbelt(s) are secured by EVERYONE in the car (2) phone is in a location (usually my purse) where I am not tempted to glance who is calling should I hear it ring. (3) if I feel I MUST answer it, I MUST pull off the road to reach for my purse, to remove my phone, to answer the call before I can get back in traffic. It has worked for decades….no accidents ever.

  7. The other question is why AAA and other consumer advocacy groups like AARP, Consumer Reports, etc aren’t joining to lobby our gov’t to pass a law requiring that autos have devices that disconnect phones while the car is driving.

  8. The real question is why the gov’t allows this. There should be devices required in all automobiles that automatically disconnect the phones while the car is driving.

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