Does smoking contribute to distracted driver car accidents?

On Behalf of | Apr 26, 2024 | Personal Injury |

Smoking can be a form of distracted driving that contributes to car accidents. These distractions can decrease reaction times and lead to poor decision-making.

While it might not cause accidents in the same manner as mechanical failures or reckless driving, smoking is a form of manual distraction that can seriously impair a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely.

Actions that distract drivers

The term distracted driving refers any activity that diverts a driver’s attention away from the primary task of safely operating a vehicle. Engaging in these activities while driving increases the risk of accidents, as they slow reaction times and decision-making processes.

Manual distractions like smoking involve activities that cause the driver to remove their hands from the steering wheel. Visual distractions occur when the driver takes their eyes off the road, such as looking at a navigation device or checking on children in the backseat. Cognitive distractions include anything that takes the driver’s mind off driving, such as conversing with passengers or daydreaming.

Connecticut’s laws on distracted driving

The state prohibits all drivers from texting, emailing or engaging in similar activities requiring electronic handheld devices while driving. For drivers over 18, hands-free devices are allowed. However, those under 18 cannot use cell phones or mobile devices and are not even hands-free.

While Connecticut law does not specifically ban smoking tobacco products while driving, it is advisable to avoid this activity. Smoking divides a driver’s focus, thereby increasing the risk of accidents and injuries.

Distracted driving accident rates

A survey revealed that 36% of Connecticut adults who drive had experienced a crash or a near-miss due to distracted driving. These accidents tend to occur during the afternoon rush hour. Bridgeport ranks third in incidents caused by distracted driving, following behind New Haven and Hartford.

In 2022, police-reported traffic crashes injured over two million people nationwide. Out of all injuries, 289,310, or 12%, were due to distracted driving. Cell phones are a major form of distraction. They cause 9% of injuries in distraction-affected crashes. However, the majority of these incidents involve other forms of distraction, including acts like smoking.

Distracted driving encompasses many activities beyond cellphone use, including common manual tasks like eating, adjusting the radio or smoking. Like other manual distractions, smoking requires the driver to use their hands for something other than controlling the vehicle. Lighting and disposing of a cigarette can also momentarily distract a driver from the road.

Smoking while driving is a distraction that you should avoid to keep yourself and others safe.