Driv­ing blind­folded for the ‘Bird Box chal­lenge’? Re­ally?

Tampa Bay Times - - Nation & World -

A teenager from Utah de­cided to cover her eyes and drive a pickup truck — the lat­est, po­lice say, in yet an­other on­line craze that seems to in­spire reck­less be­hav­ior.

The 17-year-old girl, whom po­lice did not name, crashed into an­other car. “Pre­dictable re­sult,” the Lay­ton Po­lice Depart­ment, lo­cated just north of Salt Lake City, wrote in a tweet.

Po­lice say the stunt was in­spired by the movie Bird Box, the apoc­a­lyp­tic San­dra Bul­lock thriller about a mys­te­ri­ous force that drives any­one who looks at it into sui­ci­dal and homi­ci­dal rage. In the movie, the un­known killer has dec­i­mated much of the pop­u­la­tion, and Bul­lock, while blind­folded, must nav­i­gate a treach­er­ous river to take her­self and her two chil­dren, whom she named Boy and Girl, to a sanc­tu­ary for sur­vivors.

The film has be­come a hit, with more than 45 mil­lion Net­flix sub­scribers watch­ing it within the first week of its re­lease last month. It has also be­come a meme mag­net. And per­haps equally in­evitable in this age of vi­ral video stunts, it has in­spired what the In­ter­net now calls the “Bird Box chal­lenge,” in which peo­ple record them­selves do­ing var­i­ous tasks while blind­folded.

But some have re­sorted to reck­less stunts rem­i­nis­cent of last year’s “Tide pod chal­lenge.”

Lay­ton po­lice Lt. Travis Ly­man said the 17-year-old driver pulled her beanie cap over her eyes as part of the chal­lenge Mon­day, and the gray pickup she was driv­ing crashed into a white SUV. Ly­man said the girl was with a 16-yearold male pas­sen­ger who was not blind­folded. No one was in­jured.

Also last week, YouTube celebrity Jake Paul joined the craze by driv­ing in and walk­ing across a busy Los An­ge­les street while blind­folded as part of a 24-hour “Bird Box chal­lenge.” The video has since been re­moved on­line for vi­o­lat­ing YouTube’s pol­icy that pro­hibits pro­mot­ing dan­ger­ous ac­tiv­i­ties, ac­cord­ing to the Verge.

“Ob­vi­ously, don’t drive blind­folded or pur­posely im­pair your­self like that. But our big­ger mes­sage is with any of these chal­lenges that seem to go vi­ral, we en­cour­age young peo­ple es­pe­cially to re­ally give some thought as to how you’re go­ing about do­ing these chal­lengers,” Ly­man said. “Just do it in a dif­fer­ent way. Don’t do it in a way that’s go­ing to jeop­ar­dize peo­ple.”

The stunts have prompted a sim­i­lar warn­ing from Net­flix: “Can’t be­lieve I have to say this, but: PLEASE DO NOT HURT YOUR­SELVES WITH THIS BIRD BOX CHAL­LENGE. We don’t know how this started, and we ap­pre­ci­ate the love, but Boy and Girl have just one wish for 2019 and it is that you not end up in a hos­pi­tal due to memes.”

Po­lice de­part­ments across the coun­try have joined the cho­rus. Here’s one from Port­land po­lice in Maine: “Don’t do it. Don’t think about do­ing it. Watch the movie, be happy that’s not your re­al­ity, but please don’t blind­fold your­self to re­late. Es­pe­cially not while driv­ing. Most of us have a hard enough time driv­ing safely with un­ob­structed vi­sion.”

And from Lawrence po­lice in Kansas: “We are happy to ar­range a judge sight­see­ing tour for any Lawrence jack­wag­ons par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Bird Box Chal­lenge.”

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