Ban on Smoking While Driving in United Kingdom

Published on May 20th, 2010 09:37

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

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

Currently, individuals who light up during driving can be fined by the road police officers. But this is not enough for ubiquitous anti-smoking advocates who are urging the officials to adopt a ban on smoking when driving.

smoking during driving

Some smokers say such ban is excessive and ridiculous since there has been a lack of evidence to prove that smoking can distract a driver in the same manner like using mobile phones. In addition, there is no data confirming that cigarettes can cause road accidents, so there is no need to impose new rigorous regulations, as such a measure is another effort on cracking down tobacco use, and not an attempt to protect people from road accidents.

There are some reliable international studies showing that smoking could be related to the list of major distractions.

A research carried out by the U.S. Virginia Tech Transportation Institute examined the impact of secondary distractions, such as eating, speaking with passengers, talking on the phone, smoking and other practices; and estimated the number of the road accidents caused by each of the mentioned distractions.

The research concluded that the most frequent causes of road accidents have been passengers talking and mobile phones. Crashes resulted from smoking were negligible in contrast.

Accidents caused by smoking were negligible by comparison.

Another study performed by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration compared the frequency of severe road accidents resulted from different types of driver distraction. The scientists analyzed the data on the crash events collected during 5-year period, based on police reports. The study describes the notion of “driver distraction” as a practice of delayed the driver in the identification of the data required to safely perform driving as a particular event, object or another person in the vehicle or outside it distracts driver’s attention from the road.

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

Distraction - % Of Accidents

  • Person or thing outside of vehicle - 29.4%
  • Dealing with radio/cassette/CD - 11.4%
  • Talking to passenger - 10.9%
  • Unidentified distraction - 8.6%
  • Trying to find an object in vehicle - 4.3%
  • Using certain devices or objects - 2.9%
  • Adjusting climate controls - 2.8%
  • Eating and/or drinking - 1.7%
  • Talking on the cell phone - 1.5%
  • Smoking related - 0.9%
  • Other distractions - 25.6%

In conformity with these studies carried out by well-known organizations, chatting with passengers, using various devices and even eating are much more distracting practices than lighting up a cigarette.

So basing on the results of these and many other reliable researches, smoking when driving is considered as one of the least distracting practices for the drivers. The most frequent distractions are speaking with other occupants, talking on the phone, etc, so there is no clear need to ban smoking while driving; it is simply another controversial initiative of the anti-smoking groups.

By Joanna Johnson, Staff Writer. Copyright © 2010 All rights reserved.

Related tags: smoking ban | smoking in car | light up | smoking | eating | drinking

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