Can you smoke while driving?

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Driving is one of the activities that requires more attention and concentration in our day to day. This is an activity in which both our own safety and that of other road users come into play. For this reason, the driving regulations are very demanding when it comes to prohibiting certain types of behavior that can put the safety of the driver or other road users at risk.

Can you smoke while driving

In this sense, smokers usually have a question about it. Can you smoke while driving? The quick answer to this question would be “yes”. However, the most accurate answer would be “it depends”, since this is a question that has some trickier aspects than it may seem at first. 

Can you smoke while driving? – what the DGT says

One of the most important aspects when answering this question is to refer to the highway code. In this sense, the highway code does not expressly prohibit smoking and driving at the same time, which does happen, for example, with the use of a mobile phone or other similar devices (such as tablets, headphones, etc.).

However, what the highway code does specify is the driver’s obligation to “maintain their own freedom of movement, the necessary field of vision and permanent attention to driving” [1]. As we can see, the problem would not be so much the fact of smoking, but the fact that, by doing so, this implies a distraction to driving.

In this sense, any activity that involves a distraction from the steering wheel (such as smoking, putting on make-up, drinking, eating, reading…), despite not being expressly prohibited by the regulations, is potentially punishable, as long as it is considered which may be reasons for distracted driving.

Is smoking while driving a serious offence?

Due to what we have mentioned in the previous section, it is not that smoking is a serious infraction, but a driver can be fined for smoking, although, as we have explained, they will not be penalized for the simple fact of smoking, but because smoking implies a loss of attention or concentration on the road.

In this sense, it must be taken into account that the person who will estimate what is or is not worthy of being considered as a lack of attention or concentration when driving, will be the competent authority (that is, the traffic wardens or the corresponding police according to the case). In this way, the fact that a driver considers that he is smoking safely will be of little relevance if, on the contrary, an agent with authority considers that the facts are not so.

Traffic penalty for smoking while driving

Regarding the fine established in these cases, although the context in which the fine is imposed must be taken into account, which may mean that it may incur a higher cost, in general, it will be a fine of 100 euros. However, as mentioned, this fine will depend on other factors, such as, for example, if in addition to being penalized for smoking, you are also penalized for exceeding the speed limit allowed for the road in question.

Why is it “prohibited” to smoke while driving?

On the other hand, beyond the penalty that smoking and driving at the same time can imply, there are other aspects that we should take into account and that make this habit, beyond health aspects, highly inadvisable while driving.

One of the reasons why you should not smoke while driving is because of the high possibility that this could lead to a road accident. The problem can occur for two reasons.

  1. In the first place, because of the distraction that this entails by having to be attentive to lighting the cigarette as well as to the fact of smoking it and throwing away the ash.
  2. Secondly, another of the aspects that are usually the cause of accidents and that are linked to tobacco are those that link burning with the cigarette and taking a sudden swerve.

Keep in mind that, when smoking, there is a risk of burning. This is an accident, so it’s something you can’t control in any way other than postponing smoking to when you’re not driving. In addition, after being burned, it is common to withdraw the hand or the affected part of the body abruptly, which can cause an involuntary swerve but whose consequences can be dramatic for all the occupants of the vehicle and other road users.

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