Dangerous 'driving selfies' can hike motor premiums

One in 14 motorists (7%) have admitted taking a photograph of themselves while driving, which they have then posted to social media sites, with 287 tweets tagged with #drivingselfie or #drivingselfies in the past 30 days alone.

The worst culprits are young drivers, with 9% of 18-24 year olds admitting they have taken photos behind the wheel, according to the research from Confused.com.

Another 9% of motorists admitted that using their phone whilst driving has led to an accident, and worryingly, more than a third of drivers (36%) use their phone when in the car, with the majority (75%) using their phones to make calls and send texts (43%).

The police issued 118,000 fixed penalty notices in 2013 to people using their phones, but more than half of those caught (57%) said they continued to use their phone even after being reprimanded.

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Fatal results

Gemma Stanbury, head of car insurance at Confused.com, said: "Taking your eye off the road, just for a second, to read an alert or take a photo can have potentially fatal results. Also, if drivers are caught using their phone illegally behind the wheel they can face penalty points and fines of up to £1,000, as well as the possibility of increased car insurance premiums."

Meanwhile, one CCTV company is calling for different kinds of cameras to be made compulsory in all cars to clamp down on insurance fraud – which could save motorists £50 a year, it claims.

CCTV.co.uk wants carmakers to be forced to install 'dashcams' – small video cameras that sit on the dashboard – in all cars, vans and lorries to clampdown on 'crash-for-cash' claims.

Company spokesperson Jonathan Ratcliffe said dashcam recordings capture cars suddenly pulling out infront of others, which is the common tactic crash-for-cash scammers employ, and the evidence they record can be passed on to the insurers and police.

Fradulent motor claims of this nature cost the motor insurance industry £392 million annually, according to the Insurance Fraud Bureau. And one-in-seven motor injury claims is connected to a bogus crash-for-cash scheme.

CCTV.co.uk said there's growing support for the technology, which is already widespread in some parts of the world, from police and insurance companies.

Growing support

"Compulsory cameras in cars would put the scammers out of business virtually overnight surely?" said CCTV.co.uk's Jonathan Ratcliffe.

"In Russia, fraud became so rampant that dashcams are all but a condition of taking out an insurance policy," he said.

"Insurers and courts there will now only accept video evidence when it comes to making a road-related claim."

One cottage industry in Russia involved pedestrians throwing themselves at stationary cars at traffic lights and claiming to have been run over. "Dashcam footage has wiped that dodgy practice out," says Ratcliffe, "and video evidence will do much the same in the UK."

Currently, motorists can buy dashcams online from websites such as eBay for around £30. They look a bit like satnavs and are attached to the dashboard with the same type of suction pads.

"Insurance companies should make them more attractive by offering discounts on premiums for drivers who have these devices fitted," said Ratcliffe.

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