Drivers still unaware about smoking ban
Today will see new legislation come into effect prohibiting drivers from smoking in a vehicle in England and Wales with anyone under 18 present. However, new research from Confused.com reveals that nearly one in five smokers (19%) are unaware that this ban is coming into force.
This new law, being implemented to protect children and young people from the dangers of second-hand smoke, seems to be tackling a widespread habit as, according to the research, 40% of smokers say they light up a cigarette when they drive. And, shockingly, nearly one in 10 (9%) will succumb to temptation even if there are children in their car.
Despite the lack of awareness of the new legislation amongst smokers, the majority (91%) of Brits overall are supportive of the ban. In fact, more than two-thirds (67%) of Brits want to see a complete ban on smoking in cars. However, there is a clear disparity of opinion, as nearly a fifth (18%) of smokers disagree with the new law, with half (50%) believing that this new smoking ban will have no effect.
Smoking has always been a hot topic of conversation, and restrictions on smoking have steadily been implemented over the past eight years since the 2007 smoking ban in some public places1. So, it might not come as a surprise that over half (52%) of smokers feel they are being victimised and, in fact, nearly one in five (19%) believe they should be able to smoke wherever they want.
However, these new regulations not only hold smokers accountable, but motorists in general. In fact, this new law ensures that the driver takes responsibility for the actions of their passengers. Yet a third (33%) of Brits are unware of the legislation which makes them accountable for passengers smoking in their vehicle with under 18s present.
And for those caught either smoking themselves with children in the car, or with passengers doing so, the new legislation will see them face on the spot fines. Yet, for many, this doesn’t go far enough, with nearly a quarter (24%) of Brits feeling motorists who smoke with children in the car should be punished further – by being banned from driving altogether.
The topic of smoking is one that gets many people hot under the collar, particularly when it creates an added distraction when driving. In fact, more than half (54%) of Brits believe that if eating and drinking behind the wheel is banned, then smoking when driving should be banned altogether, and not just when children are in the vehicle.
However, it is worrying to learn that whilst eating and drinking behind the wheel are well-known distractions, which have led to careless driving offences, many motorists are still willing to be reckless when it comes to road safety. In fact, the findings reveal that more than a third of Brits have consumed drinks whilst driving (35%), as well as admitting to eating behind the wheel (36%).
Therefore, it begs the question, if motorists still eat and drink behind the wheel, will smokers continue to light up while driving? And with nearly a third of smokers (30%) arguing that lighting up helps them to remain calm when driving, stubbing out the habit might prove difficult for many.
Despite, there being some scepticism about the effectiveness of this new legislation, more than a quarter (27%) of smokers do concede that smoking can cause a distraction when driving. In fact, more than a quarter (28%) of smokers believe that smoking when driving is dangerous, particularly as they could drop their cigarette and burn themselves, causing subsequent accidents.
Gemma Stanbury, head of Motor at Confused.com said, ‘Engaging in activities that involve driving with just one hand on the wheel is a dangerous thing to do. Holding a lit cigarette when driving is a distraction that requires the smoker to remove their hands off the steering wheel at frequent intervals. Add to that the danger of hot ash and embers flying around inside the vehicle, or the tip of the cigarette burning the driver, and it’s abundantly clear that smoking and driving do not mix.’
‘And although this new legislation is aimed at drivers who smoke with children in the car, we want motorists to be made aware that smoking can be a distraction when driving. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the driver to minimise distraction and pay attention to the roads. Whether you think you are a safe a driver, accidents can easily happen on the roads, so paying full attention gives people the best chance of avoiding or causing any incidences.’