Leann was driving to work during the early part of rush hour. The pending rain forecast forced drivers out onto the road earlier than usual. As the sky darkened, the winds picked up and rain started suddenly and heavily. The traffic immediately slowed to a crawl and Leann noticed that despite the weather conditions and impaired visibility, many drivers failed to turn on their headlights. Leeann tried to take note of those cars so she could watch for them as she continued down the highway. To her left, a driver hogged the left lane and weaved slowly across the center line. Leann, a bit nervous, noticed that he did not have his headlights on nor did he seem focused on the road. The left lane hogging driver was talking on his cellphone and attempting to light a cigarette with a lighter. The wind, coming through his window, made the cigarette more difficult to light. With each attempt to light his cigarette, his driving got sloppy. Leann noticed that his driving seemed more controlled after he hung up his phone and successfully lit his cigarette. After a couple of minutes, the driver had turned on his headlights, picked up his pace in the left lane and moved safely to the right. The driver, when done with his cigarette, tossed the butt out the window, but instead of landing on the wet roadway, the wind carried the still smoking butt into the back window of the driver’s car. Immediately, the driver swerved and slammed on the brakes. Without warning, Leann collided with the driver’s vehicle. The driver explained that the cigarette butt had landed in his lap and made him panic. Had Leann been driving any faster she would have sustained severe injuries, but still had a slight whiplash injury. When she visited her car accident lawyer, Leann asked him if cigarette smoking was an example of distracted driving. He said, “Yes.”
Smoking is One of the Many Distractions
Sure, we’ve all heard of a driver who is distracted by his/her cell phone or fighting the temptation not to text a friend back. Many drivers, even you, may have been a distracted driver at least once or twice. Distracted driving is not just a driver using a cellphone, but is any activity that could divert a driver’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger the driver, passengers, and fellow motorists. Such distractions include, eating and drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, reading maps, using a gps, adjusting the radio, talking on the cellphone, texting and smoking cigarettes. Wait. Smoking cigarettes? Think about it. In order to smoke in your car, you need to locate the pack, remove a cigarette, find a lighter, and try to get the cigarette lit while keeping your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. And what about if your lighting attempts are unsuccessful? You’ll keep trying and your concentration and focus on the road will be broken. Once you’re done with your cigarette, you’ll need to make sure that you’ve put it out properly. If you get a little bit of wind blowing through your windows, you may find a car (and lap) full of burning embers. And don’t even think about littering!
Not only is cigarette smoking bad for you and can lead to numerous health problems resulting in death, smoking while driving is dangerous and can increase your likelihood of any preventable injuries. If you must smoke, while in the car, pull over safely. Better yet, ditch the smokes for your health and keep your eyes and hands on the wheel.