Lighting up behind the wheel prompts fiery debate

Despite the health warnings, smoking in the UK is still widespread, with millions of drivers enjoying a puff as they go about their business on the roads of the UK. Smoking is already against the law in the workplace, and for thousands of drivers this extends to the van they are driving - but for many, it still doesn’t stop them.

A recent survey from the Institute of Advanced Motorists has revealed that lighting up behind the wheel could soon become a thing of the past. 56 per cent of the survey’s respondents think that smoking whilst driving should be banned; however, just under half felt that a ban would be unenforceable.

The strength of public feeling is further highlighted by the fact that 75 per cent of respondents consider the act of lighting a cigarette to be a serious distraction, whilst only 2 per cent felt smoking behind the wheel did not increase the danger.

Respondents considered smoking to be:

  • Irresponsible (46 per cent);
  • Just as dangerous as using a mobile phone (46 per cent);
  • Dangerous (43 per cent).

Before any decision is made as to the legality of smoking behind the wheel, the Institute of Advanced Motorists believe more research should be done: “The health benefits may be clear but more research needs to be done to determine whether there are actual road safety grounds to act on these concerns by banning smoking whilst driving altogether.”

Currently smoking rules in Scotland and the rest of the UK differ. Scottish van operators must display a no-smoking sign and refrain from smoking in commercial vehicles. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in a £200 fine. Van operators from the rest of the UK entering Scotland must abide by the same law.

Meanwhile, in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, smoking is prohibited when it is likely the van will be shared by another person. Such vans must carry a no-smoking sticker, and failure to comply will cost £30 in fines, rising to £200 on prosecution.

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