Memes Kill

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Photo: LM Otero (AP)

Tons of people use phones while driving, because we’re all going to die anyway—perhaps fairly soon, thanks to those folks. But here’s the kicker: Your buddy in the next lane, barreling down the highway at 70 mph with a phone in their face? There’s a decent chance they’re soaking up some memes at the expense of your safety.


Root Insurance shared the results of an online study done by market-research firm Wakefield Research this week, which got responses from nearly 2,000 U.S. drivers earlier this year. Nearly half of those people marked distracted driving as their top concern while on the road, according to the results, but also admitted to spending an average of 13 minutes per day on their own phones while behind the wheel.

Along those same hypocritical lines, 89 percent of people surveyed said they’d give a ride-hailing driver a bad rating for texting and driving, while 39 percent said they’d done it themselves. Ninety percent think they’re better drivers than Uber and Lyft employees, though, because everyone is a professional driver until they’re in a situation that requires a professional driver.

But none of those results came as a surprise—they’re right there on display on your local roads. The wildest part of the results, in which the choices oddly add up to 103 percent, was this one:

Almost all drivers (99%) point to phones as being among the top three distractions while driving. Distractions that are most likely to turn their attention away from the road and to their phone include:

- Group chats, such as a text or an email chain with multiple people (52%)

- Social media, such as memes or newsfeed (33%)

- Streaming video, such as a show or movie trailer (18%)

Social media, such as memes or newsfeed (33%).”

One more time:

“Social media, such as memes or newsfeed (33%).”

Thirty-three percent of the people responding to what distracts them from the road most when it comes to their phones, potentially putting others in danger, selected an answer with “memes” in it.

Yep. Uh-huh. That’s right. Powerful Shaggy, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, J.K. Rowling’s tweets, distracted boyfriend, even Kaiba’s defeat—each and every one of them. Memes are now a threat to your safety on the road, and nearly two in five drivers surveyed also said they don’t even bother to put their phones down when they see a cop.

Who’s distracted now, boyfriend? Drivers are, thanks to you.

Memes kill, if you look at them while driving—which plenty of you, apparently, do. That might be a good habit to go ahead and break.



The next time I see someone using their phone while driving, I’m going to throw my beer at them.