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California Has The Most Drivers Taking #DrivingSelfies, Says Report

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(Photo by Andy Sternberg via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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It goes without saying that texting and driving is a bad idea. The FCC reported in 2012 that "driver distraction" resulted in 3,328 fatalities and about 421,000 injuries. Distraction accounted for 18 percent of the year's car-related fatalities.

But drivers aren't just texting, of course. They're also Facebooking, and Spotifying, and Tindering, and, yes, Instagraming. AutoInsurance Center, an insurance industry publication, decided to get a first-hand glimpse at who's using Instagram on the road. They searched hashtags like #SelfieWhileDriving and #HopeIDontCrash and discovered the disheartening (but unsurprising) truth: droves of people are taking selfies on their commute.

Which state had the most offenders? California, of course. The entire West Coast was fairly Instagram-happy on the road, but California took the dubious honor as having the most hashtagging drivers. While looking up #DrivingSelfie, AutoInsurance Center found that California averaged 2.53 posts per 100,000 residents, while Nevada followed at a close second with 2.52. Mississippi and Oklahoma had the least posts, with 0.20 and 0.30 per 100,000 residents, respectively.

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(Courtesy of AutoInsurance Center)
In a bit of good news (not really) for California, we dropped from 1st to 3rd place when AutoInsurance expanded beyond #DrivingSelfie and looked up all driving-related hashtags. In this instance, California averaged 58.66 posts per 100,000 residents. Hawaii took the first spot with 97.23 posts per 100,000 residents.

We harbor some skepticism over the AutoInsurance study, however. They claim to have "combed through over 70,000 posts" on Instagram and determined which states the photos were taken in. This seems like an immense undertaking, especially considering that you can't set a filter for BOTH hashtags and location, or search multiple hashtags (ie. #DrivingSelfie and #California). So how, exactly, did AutoInsurance get its data?

To get a glimpse for ourselves, we looked up #CaliforniaDriving on Instagram to see who's taking selfies in the Golden State. More than 700 posts cropped up. Most of it was pretty innocent, actually. Many of the images were taken with the driver standing outside of the vehicle (lots of pastoral, Thomas Kinkade-y shots here). But we did find some of this:

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And this one with the ironic caption:


And this dance party:


Either way, it's common knowledge by now that a lot of Californians are using their phones on the road. You only have to look out your window to spot them. The L.A. Times reported that, probably, 20% of California drivers are handling their phones while on the road. If you're caught texting while driving in California, the fine will be somewhere between $160 to $280, depending on how many offenses you have on your record. In Alaska, however, a first-time offender can be subjected to a $10,000 fine and jail time (whoa).