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Ask a Trooper: Driving while filming

November 21, 2014
By Trooper Vince Kurtz - Iowa State Patrol Safety Education , Estherville News

Q: I am seeing more and more posts on social media of drivers who are taking photos and video while they are driving. I have also seen these videos on TV news broadcasts. Isn't this just as dangerous as texting or talking on your phone?

A: My moment in the spotlight came several years back. We had just purchased a camera that was capable of taking much better pictures than our old one. So I had to give it a try.

It was Memorial Day weekend and we had our flag displayed outside on the deck. With the late afternoon came a beautiful sunset. The sun's rays streaming through the flag made for a wonderful picture opportunity. The photo turned out great. That's when the thought came to mewhy not send it into the local TV station and see if they will show it on the broadcast that night? So I sent it off and waited for the evening news with much anticipation. This was my opportunity. The opportunity to be recognized for my skill in the world of 'professional' photography (tongue firmly in cheek)

It's that opportunity for recognition coupled with social media and the 'up to the minute' news that fuels a new traffic safety threat driving while filming. Everyone wants the recognition for catching that perfect moment, and watching it go viral on social media. But catching that moment in and of itself is not the problem. The problem lies when motorists think they can do it while driving. I have witnessed this problem first hand at the scene of traffic crashes. It's common to see motorists pass by with their phone out the window...coming within feet of emergency responders helping the injured. Is this the time to be looking for that recognition?

Filming or taking photos while driving is not only illegal, it is a serious threat to everyone on the road. Resist the urge to make the news or get the scoop. Remember that getting to your destination safely is priority number one.

My time in the spotlight came and went. The photo made the news and I had my recognition. But with it came a valuable lesson learned. There is always more to becoming a professional than you think, regardless of what field it may be in. And although my photo wasn't taken while driving, it reminds me that I should stick to my day job and leave the photography to the professionals. Likewise, it would be wise to leave the filming to the professionals, especially while behind the wheel.



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