Smoking While Driving Causes Accidents in Clearwater

September 16, 2021 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Smoking While Driving Causes Accidents in Clearwater

Car Accidents Caused by Smoking While Driving

Smoking while driving causes accidents in Clearwater, Florida. “Distracted driving is any activity that takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel or your mind off your primary task of driving safely,” says Doug Smith, senior vice president of personal lines at Erie Insurance. Cigarette smoking is certainly one such activity.

The process of lighting and smoking a cigarette is distracting on its own. In order to smoke in your car, you must locate the pack, remove a cigarette, find a lighter, and try to get the cigarette lit while still maintaining your focus on the road and hands on the wheel. If you are unsuccessful in your attempts to light the cigarette, you will keep trying and your focus and concentration is broken even longer. Once you are done smoking, you will then need to make sure the cigarette is put out and disposed of properly.

Driving Distractions That Are Caused by Smoking and Driving

  • Visual distraction: This occurs while drivers search around their car for their cigarettes and lighter;
  • Cognitive distraction: The driver’s brain is focused on finding and then lighting their cigarette
  • Manual distraction: This occurs because drivers are generally required to remove both hands from the wheel in order to light their cigarettes. Once the cigarette is lit, the driver will keep driving with one hand off the steering wheel in order to smoke while driving. They will subsequently become distracted by the need to expel ash either into the car’s cigarette tray or out of the window. The entire process of lighting and smoking a cigarette while driving is extremely dangerous.

In the past two years, over 65,000 people were killed in car collisions. Of those collisions, 1 in 10 crashes involved at least one distracted driver, according to police data analyzed by Erie Insurance in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), a nationwide census of fatal motor vehicle traffic crashes maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Evaluation of Smoking While Driving Accident Risk

The National Institutes of Health published a report examining the impact of smoking while driving and its consequences. The study found that on average, drivers who were smoking were even more distracted than people who used a cell phone. Cigarette smokers averaged 12.0 seconds of distraction (equivalent to traveling 525 feet without looking at the road), while cell phone users averaged 10.6 seconds of distraction (traveling 492 feet).

Further, in their training manual for Commercial Drivers License drivers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration strongly discourages smoking while driving. The FMCSA conducted its own five-year study into the dangers of smoking while driving a truck and found that smoking was a source of distraction in 0.9 percent of distraction-related crashes. This equates to approximately 12,780 crashes over the five-year period examined.

How Smoking While Driving Can Affect a Car Accident Claim

When you are driving and smoking, you are technically driving distracted. Some may like to think that their smoking behind the wheel does not affect their ability to operate their vehicle but the insurance company will not see things the same way. You may be involved in a car accident and happen to be smoking behind the wheel at the time. The accident could be caused by the other driver rear-ending you because they were drunk or speeding but if the insurance company finds out you were smoking then your claim can suffer.

Since smoking is seen as distracted driving, you may be considered partially at fault for the accident occurring even if you were otherwise driving safely and the other driver hit you. Any behavior while driving that can be considered negligent on your part can and will be used against you in your car accident case.

You may still be able to seek compensation thanks to Florida's comparative negligence policy but the compensation you may receive will be decreased because of your perceived negligence that potentially contributed to the accident occurring. This may not seem fair but it happens, which is why you shouldn't take a chance and should just wait to smoke at your destination.

Smoking While Driving and Other Distractions

Distracted driving is a true epidemic that is taking over America. Unfortunately, most people only associate this danger with talking or texting on smartphones while driving. The reality, however, is that distracted driving is a problem that involves many causes. Distracted driving can include:

  • Eating or drinking
  • Applying makeup
  • Changing music
  • Rubbernecking
  • Reaching or searching for items
  • Using a GPS

These are just a few examples of distractions while driving other than those involving texting or talking on the cell phone. These activities cause fatalities every day in America, drive safe and stay alert. Someone who has been injured due to an accident caused by a distracted driver has the right to compensation for their injuries but starting a claim can often prove more difficult to handle on your own than anticipated. Insurance companies can make taking legal action a very difficult process which is why hiring a car accident attorney is in your best interest.

Seek an Experienced Florida Car Accident Injury Lawer

After getting into an accident due to being distracted, you must conduct yourself appropriately if you or a loved one has suffered from injuries due to the negligence of a distracted driver, call an experienced and aggressive attorney to handle your claim, and help you seek compensation for your injuries. The personal injury lawyers at Dolman Law Group will investigate your case, communicate with the insurance companies on your behalf, and help you obtain the compensation you need for damage done to your property and for your pain and suffering.

Our personal injury attorneys are available at any time to answer questions you might have about your personal injury claim. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA attorney, please contact us through our contact form online, or by telephone at 727-451-6900.

Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

Learn More