Drivers still smoking & vaping behind the wheel despite Highway Code rule, study finds

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Millions of drivers have admitted to vaping or smoking while driving, which could result in penalty points.

Millions of drivers have admitted to vaping while driving despite acknowledging that it is a violation of a Highway code rule, which could result in penalty points. According to a study by Compare the Market, over a quarter of drivers (27%), which equates to 11.3 million drivers, admit to smoking or vaping behind the wheel.

The research says these drivers are at risk of unlimited fines, discretionary disqualification and three to nine penalty points for abusing the Highway Code Rule 148 which states that drivers must limit distractions while behind the wheel in order to drive safely, listing smoking as an example of what to avoid.

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According to the study, Birmingham drivers are most likely to smoke or vape in the car, with over one-third (34%) admitting to this. This is followed by Manchester (33%) and Cardiff (30%). Survey results also show 47% of drivers aged 16-24 have smoked or vaped while driving, whilst 12% of drivers aged over 55 admit to this.

Meanwhile, 24% of drivers stated they allow passengers to smoke in their vehicle, although this is illegal with anyone under the age of 18 in the car and could result in a £50 fine for both the smoker and driver.

Julie Daniels from the car insurance team at Compare The Market said: “We found that a surprising number of drivers – 8.4% for smoking and 6.8% for vaping – are aware they could be fined for carrying out their habit while driving, but still do it anyway.

“It’s crucial for drivers to understand the risks involved with this; smoking and vaping while driving can distract you and make you drive carelessly, which could lead to accidents. You’re not just putting yourself in danger, but also the other people on the road.

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“There are ways for drivers who smoke or vape to stay safe, such as pulling over to the side of the road where possible if they need to smoke, or scheduling stops during long journeys. This means they can then focus their attention fully on the road, minimising risks and avoiding fines.”

Drivers who smoke or vape in the car - rank of cities

  1. Birmingham - 34%
  2. Manchester - 33%
  3. Cardiff - 30%
  4. Edinburgh - 28%
  5. Glasgow - 27%
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