“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. Think about it: 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 done smoking, you will need to make sure the cigarette is put out and disposed of properly.
Driving distractions 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 cigarette. 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 a car collision. 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.
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 (equitable 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 5 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.
Distracted driving is a true epidemic that is taking over America. Unfortunately, most people only associate this danger with talking or texting on cell phones while driving. The reality, however, is that distracted driving is a problem that involves many causes. Eating, using a GPS, and smoking cigarettes 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. If you have suffered injuries at the hands of a distracted driver, call an experienced and aggressive attorney to handle your claim and help you seek compensation for your injuries. Contact Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA today: 727-451-6900.
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