I see plenty of motorists smoking and stuffing their faces whilst driving and with only one hand on the wheel.
Cyclists have to put up with a lot of distracted motorists texting, chatting and smoking, it is no wonder they have loads of accidents.
From Safer driving.co.uk:-
“Do you think nothing of eating and smoking behind the wheel? We’ve all done it , but now some countries are starting to lay down the law on lighting up on the road, as even a momentary distraction can cause serious accidents.
Driving distractions are a major contributor to fatal road accidents, many of which are caused by motorists having a sneaky cigarette or bite to eat whilst driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a quarter of car crashes in the United States are caused by drivers losing concentration. Many of these incidents involved young drivers under the age of twenty.
Driving distractions can result in a delay in processing information. The increased cognitive load results in a greater length of time staring straight ahead, rather than checking mirrors. They also reduce the ability to fully concentrate on the task in hand.
Smoking Whilst Driving
From 1st of July 2007 it will be illegal to smoke in any public spaces and workplaces in England. The introduction of the new law also means that it will be illegal to smoke in vehicles that are used to transport members of the public or if they are used by more than one person for the purposes of work (paid or unpaid) whether they are travelling in the vehicle at the same time or not.
The ban also means that it will be illegal for both drivers and passengers to light up in all taxis and private hire vehicles. This means that drivers will not be able to smoke in their cab, even if they have no passengers.
All vehicles that are required to be smokefree must display a no smoking sign which must show the international symbol for “No Smoking” and must be 70 mm across or more.
Private vehicles, or those that are used mainly for private purposes will not be required to be smokefree.
Lighting up behind the wheel in Scotland can already cost you £60 as in 2006 smoking whilst driving was banned as part of the Scottish Highway Code. In-car smoking is banned in Brazil and in Germany, they are attempting to impose a smoking ban whilst driving.
A popular German newspaper reported on accident research which showed that a vehicle travelling 50 kilometres (31 miles) per hour will still travel 14 metres (16 yards) per second whilst the driver scrabbles around for a fallen cigarette. Clearly there is huge potential for an accident whilst the driver has taken their eye off the road or dipped in concentration.
Recent Spanish research indicates that smokers are twice as likely to be involved in a serious road accident as non-smokers.
Eating and Drinking Whilst Driving
Studies have found that eating and drinking affects the focus of 1.7% of motorists involved in accidents, whereas mobile phones – usually blamed for distracting drivers- only affects 1.5%. It has also been suggested that frequently operating an in-car CD player is more distracting than either activity.
Fizzy drinks can be a big disruption. If they spill, they are likely to cause a loss of focus as you attempt to stop further spillage and assess the damage.
Eating greasy foods at the wheel is a nightmare. It is almost impossible to grip the steering wheel with sticky hands, meaning you will probably spend much of the time wiping your hands rather than concentrating on the road ahead.
Coffee is perhaps the worst offender. An unexpected bump in the road is liable to be a recipe for disaster for any drink without a lid. The prospect of arriving with unsightly stains means many drivers spend too much time trying to recover the situation. To make matters worse, the heat of the beverage contributes to the potentially dangerous driving environment”
In September 2007, the BBC wrote:
“Smoking drivers risk prosecution
Motorists who smoke at the wheel could be prosecuted under a new rule in the latest edition of the Highway Code.
Smoking drivers would be charged if it is thought they were driving without due care and attention.
Road Safety Minister Jim Fitzpatrick said drivers should not be distracted by other activities behind the wheel.
The first update of the Highway Code for eight years, which is 42 pages longer and has 29 more rules, includes a new safety code for novice drivers.
Mr Fitzpatrick told BBC News: “What it says is that drivers should remember they have to concentrate and they shouldn’t be distracted either by passengers, by loud music, by reading a map, or using a mobile phone or by smoking”.