Did you know that while smoking and vaping behind the is technically legal, there are strict rules that govern how and when you're allowed to do it? New research by Road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart, found that 57% of smokers/vapers routinely take up their habit while driving, risking a £100 fine for not following the rules correctly. Ouch. Thankfully, it's not as complicated as you might think, so to help you stay on the right side of the law, we thought it best to run through the basics.
When not to smoke or vape
If you're driving a car with a roof and you have a passenger under the age of 18 aboard, smoking is prohibited. Like totally. This is because smoke and vapour can be harmful to young lungs in a confined space like a car interior. If you must smoke or vape when youngsters are aboard, you either need to do it with the roof down on a convertible, or you need to pull over and get out of the car.
Drivers can also be hit with that £100 fine for careless driving, in relation to using one hand to hold a cigarette, cigar or vape. Taking both hands off the wheel to light up is obviously not allowed either. Plus, motorists who are distracted by smoke can be prosecuted for driving without due care and attention. Smoke can impair your vision and also enhance glare from the sun, which can lead to loss of control and disorientation while driving - and potentially result in an accident.
In the most extreme cases when incidents are taken to court, the fine can be up to £5,000, nine penalty points and even a court-imposed driving ban. This can then have further implications, like higher insurance premiums in the future, or worse, long-term injuries as a result of crashing, due to your vision being compromised by smoke or vapour. And don't get us started on the potential problems to arise if you drop a lit cigarette as you drive. It's just not worth the risk.
We'd say it's best to eliminate unnecessary and totally avoidable risk by not smoking or vaping when driving. Keep those moments for when you can step out of the car and relax. Not only will it make you a safer driver, but it should also prevent you from getting slapped with a £100 fine should you break a rule. When the cost of living is on the rise, that ought to be a significant factor in encouraging motorists to play by the rules.