Smoking And Motor Vehicle Accidents
Many people know about the health effects of smoking. But, what many are not aware of is that smoking has been identified as a risk factor of auto accidents in several international studies. Think about it: if you want to smoke while driving, you have to find the pack of cigarettes, remove a cigarette, find your lighter, and get your cigarette lit, while at the same time keeping your eyes on the road ahead, your mind on driving and your hands on the steering wheel. Do you think doing that is possible without getting distracted? Also, once you finish smoking, you need to make sure you put out the cigarette and dispose of it properly while at the same time keeping your eyes on the road ahead, your mind on driving, and your hands on the steering wheel. Do you think doing that is possible without getting distracted? The truth is that it is quite difficult for a driver to smoke while driving without getting distracted.
Conclusions from Studies that Have Assessed the Risk of Smoking While Driving
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) published a study that focused on the risk assessment of distractions that arise from smoking while driving. According to the report written after the study, driving while smoking produces a huge risk of motor vehicle accidents, more than driving while using a mobile phone. Specifically, the study found the average of the measured driving distraction of smokers to be 12 seconds. On the other hand, the study found the average of the measured driving distractions of mobile phone users to be 10.6 seconds.
Another study that involved the use of survey data from Canada found that despite a substantial reduction in the overall prevalence of smoking in Canada, individuals who engage in cigarette smoking have significantly increased odds of collision involvement. Similarly, a Japanese study of more than 97,000 adults that examined traffic accidents involving cars, motorbikes, bicycles, and other vehicles, found a positive association between smoking and traffic accident death among men in Japan. An adequate estimation among women could not be obtained because of fewer deaths among women smokers.
How Smoking While Driving Can Lead To a Motor Vehicle Accident
The act of taking a cigarette out of the packet, finding a lighter, and coordinating one’s hand or hands to light the cigarette means an individual is likely to divert their gaze and attention away from the road. After lighting your cigarette, you need to put your lighter and cigarettes away. The act of putting away a lighter and cigarettes can also lead to your gaze and attention being diverted away from the road. Basically, when you smoke while driving, you are driving distracted. Anytime you drive while distracted, you increase your chances of being involved in a motor vehicle accident. When you are distracted, it becomes hard for you to react to situations on the road.
Apart from distractions occurring when you are looking for your cigarettes, lighting a cigarette, putting out a cigarette, or putting your cigarettes and lighter away, distractions can also arise while you are smoking. When smoking while driving, people often open the window and turn towards it to blow the smoke. When a person turns towards an open window to blow cigarette smoke, they reduce their vision. If you turn your head to the left to blow smoke, you certainly reduce your vision to the right.
Also, when smoking while driving, you need to tap the ash off the cigarette while keeping your eyes on the road ahead, your mind on driving, and your hands on the steering wheel. Doing this is almost impossible. Since most cars don’t come with ashtrays, the ashtrays that drivers use are usually not in the line of sight. So, when you need to tap the ash of a cigarette, you might need to take your eyes off the road ahead to use the ashtray.
Lastly, the stress and anxiety that cigarettes cause can lead to you making rash decisions while on the road. As much as many people believe that smoking reduces stress, research shows that smoking actually increases tension and anxiety.
In conclusion, to ensure safety, motorists must fully focus on driving while on the road because smoking causes several distractions, which can be summarized as;
- Cognitive distractions
- Visual distractions, and
- Manual distractions
Have You Been Injured in Florida by a Distracted Driver?
If you, a family member, a friend, or someone you know has been injured in a Florida auto wreck by a driver who was smoking while driving, know that Florida law gives you the right to recover compensation from the at-fault party. Contact one of our Naples auto accident attorneys at The Law Offices of Marc L. Shapiro, P.A., today at 239-649-8050 to get help with your case.