Death by Selfie?
There’s a reason Disney World and some entire countries have banned selfie sticks
An oncoming train kills a 15-year-old boy in India taking a selfie on the tracks.
A Polish couple falls off a cliff in Portugal and dies while snapping a selfie.
And during the Tour de France, 25-year-old American rider Tejay Van Garderen is injured after he collides with a selfie-taking spectator. In fact, Tour fans who want a piece of the action are getting lots more than they bargained for, causing cyclist crashes left and right at the famed distance bike race in recent years.
Related: 5 Gadgets to Make Biking Safer
No doubt, we live in a selfie world. But photo faux pas — the latest headline-grabbing, high-tech health hazards — are causing accidents and deaths everywhere you look. Clueless selfie-lovers determined to capture themselves in every moment can be dangerous to themselves and others.
“For many people the phone is an appendage,” says adolescent psychologist Barbara Greenberg. “They do not always think of the dangers.”
Concern over accidents and injuries has prompted some of the world’s biggest public places — and even some countries — to take action. Major tourist attractions, from The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to Lollapalooza, have banned selfie sticks. Last May, the Magic Kingdom made headlines when Disney added selfie sticks to its list of banned items, along with alcohol and weapons, at parks in Florida, California, Paris and Hong Kong. The Mickey Mouse move came after passengers on a roller coaster at Disneyland were stranded mid-ride for an hour thanks to a man who whipped out his selfie stick. (Riders are supposed to stow all their personal items.)
So what can you do to protect yourself and your loved ones from selfie snafus? Start with these tips.
Don’t selfie and drive
Selfies are the new texting when it comes to distracted driving. Two Iranian women landed in the hospital after their car crashed as they were recording themselves singing.
About a year ago, a North Carolina woman drove down a stretch of highway listening to a Pharrell song when she decided to take a selfie and post it on Facebook. “The happy song makes me HAPPY,” Courtney Safford wrote on her post.
Moments later, the 32-year-old woman’s car careened across the center median and crashed into a recycling truck. Posting the selfie was the last thing she ever did.
Whether you’re behind the wheel or in the passenger seat, taking a photo or video while the car is in motion is simply a bad idea.
Wild animal? Stay out of the picture
Animals are unpredictable. Most people realize they should keep a safe distance from a bear or rattlesnake, but some can’t seem to resist the urge to snap a selfie. In Russia, two Siberian men were taken for treatment after taking a selfie with a poisonous snake. Closer to home, U.S. Forest Service officials in Lake Tahoe are concerned about people trying to snap selfies with wild bears.
By all means, take photos of your trip to view wildlife. Just face the camera toward the animal, use your zoom — and shoot your own mug separately.
Ditch the “cool”
Trying to look “cool” can be catastrophic.Take the misguided man Mexico City, who accidentally shot and killed himself last summer while posing for a selfie with his gun. Death by selfie, as it’s been coined, can be the result of the urge to impress. In Russia, there have been 10 deaths and 100 accidents reported involving selfie takers. In July, the Russian government published a two-page guide on how to take selfies safely that warns, “A cool selfie can cost you your life.”
Keep out of the action
Inserting yourself into the path of runners or bicyclists, not to mention a crime scene or car accident, can lead to injuries or arrest. Especially if you’re the one committing a crime. Incredulously, a 19-year-old Wisconsin man took selfies while allegedly robbing a business. Police arrested him after he left his phone behind.
Related: How Long Will You Live?
Admit your addiction
A little selfie self-awareness can go a long way, says psychologist Greenberg. “The first step is to make people aware that it’s reaching that level and the next step is for them to monitor it,” she explains. “If they start to notice their behavior, many times it starts to drop in frequency.”