Possible Bans on Smoking While Driving

United Kingdom’s Transport Department approved several years ago some changes in the Highway Code, among which was including smoking into the list of the drivers’ distractions, that by now contains such common distractions as:

  • Eating or drinking;
  • Talking on the phone;
  • Turning on music too loudly;
  • Reading maps
  • Talking with passengers.

smoking driving

At present smokers who light up during driving can be fined by the traffic law enforcement. But this is not enough for ever-present anti-smoking advocates who are demanding the officials to approve a ban on smoking when driving.

Many smokers say that such prohibition is redundant and absurd because there are no evidences that confirm the fact that smoking can divert a driver in the same manner like using mobile phones. Furthermore, there is no data proving that cigarettes can produce road accidents that is why there is no need to assign new strict regulations. As it is stated by many smokers this ban is another effort on eradicate tobacco use, and not an attempt to protect people from road accidents.

Some international dependable studies show that smoking could be related to the list of major distractions.

A study realized by the U.S. Virginia Tech Transportation Institute analysed the impact of secondary distractions, such as speaking with passengers, talking on the phone, eating, smoking and other distractions; and calculated the number of the road accidents caused by each of the stated distractions.

In the end the research stated that the most frequent causes of road accidents are connected with talking and mobile phones. Accidents resulted from smoking were insignificant in contrast.

One more study was realized by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that compared the frequency of serious road accidents in consequence of different types of driver distraction. The researches analyzed the facts on the accidents events accumulated during 5-year period, based on police reports.

The research listed the driver’s distractions in the following manner (from all the road accidents caused by distraction):

Distraction % of accidents
Person or an object outside the vehicle 29.4%
Dealing with radio /CD 11.4%
Talking to passenger 10.9%
Unknown distraction 8.6%
Searching an object in vehicle 4.3%
Using some devices or objects 2.9%
Adjusting air-conditioning unit 2.8%
Eating and/or drinking 1.7%
Talking on mobile phone 1.5%
Smoking related 0.9%
Other types of distractions 25.6%

In accordance with these researches carried out by the well-known organizations, talking to passengers, using various devices and even eating are much more distracting than lighting up a cigarette.

So relying on the results of these and many other dependable studies, smoking while driving is considered as one of the least distracting practices for the drivers. The most commonly encountered distractions are speaking with passengers, talking on the phone, etc, so there is no evident need to prohibit smoking when driving; it is simply one more disputable initiative of the anti-smoking organizations.

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