Don’t stream and drive. That’s the message from a UK cop who’s taken it upon himself to track down and warn live-streamers of the dangers of broadcasting from behind the wheel.
The officer, Neil, who uses the Twitter name @SgtTCS, says the growing popularity of live-streaming apps like Periscope could lead to more traffic accidents if users are unable to resist the puzzling temptation to broadcast the road in front. Or their face as they drive.
It’s the interactive element of apps like Periscope that really concerns Neil, who says the ability for viewers to send instant messages could cause streaming drivers to momentarily take their eyes off the road, a dangerous action at any speed.
The cop’s unofficial social media campaign, which runs with the hashtag #dontstreamanddrive, involves perusing Periscope’s many UK streams to see who’s broadcasting while driving. When he catches someone in the act, instead of sending a potentially distracting instant message, Neil gets in touch later via the strreamer’s linked Twitter account to point out their misdemeanor and its potential consequences.
“Some people who I’ve observed are into the social media celebrity status and they want to be popular,” he told the BBC. “In some cases they’re singing, doing little performances. You can see them reading the comments – you can see their eyes are off the road.”
Streaming drivers that respond to Neil’s messages usually fall into two camps – those that tell him where to go and those who thank him for the alert and promise not to do it again.
The traffic cop claims that with live-streaming growing in popularity, it “won’t be long before the first person live-streams their own death or that of another while driving.”
To highlight the issue, he’s organizing the first ever #DontStreamAndDrive Day for April 8.
“I know that every right-thinking person would want to reduce the number of deaths on our roads,” Neil wrote recently in a piece about #DontStreamAndDrive Day. “Ironically every streaming driver I have seen would probably say the same. We need to bridge the gap between the mindset and the behaviour. We need to get the message out there now, nice and early, to current and future live-streamers that streaming and driving is massively dangerous and must not be done.”