Smoking While Driving Risks Safety

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Everyone needs pleasure and relaxation although type and way may differ from person to person. Indeed, celebrating a holiday in a favourite destination is a great way to relax and rejuvenate oneself, as well as a true opportunity to cosset yourself and indulge in your favorite pastimes. Naturally, it is not the best option to hire an expensive vehicle or use overcrowded public transport. Your private vehicle opens up plenty more opportunities to enjoy the trip. A long, relaxing drive through a new destination is a great way to get to grips with the culture and cuisine. Even a slightly overwhelming journey through a crowded city brings the opportunity to learn new road signs, thus immersing yourself in new road decorum. 

However, if you smoke a cigarette, these circumstances might sound like the perfect time to light one up, but is it? Smoking while driving has become a concerning issue and a dangerous combination that poses significant risks to public safety. The act of smoking while operating a vehicle not only endangers the driver's life but also puts other road users at risk. It is a well-known fact that smoking is harmful to health, and it is equally important to understand the dangers of smoking while driving. Smoking while driving can lead to distraction, which is one of the leading causes of accidents on the road. Lighting a cigarette, holding it, and smoking it requires the driver to take their hands off the wheel and their eyes off the road. This momentary distraction can be enough to cause an accident, especially if the driver is traveling at high speeds. 

Distraction 

In addition to the distraction, smoking while driving can also impair the driver's ability to focus and react quickly. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes can affect the brain and nervous system, leading to slower reaction times and impaired judgment. This can be especially dangerous in emergencies where split-second decisions can mean the difference between life and death. Smoking while driving is a form of distracted driving that diverts the driver's attention from the road. Lighting a cigarette, handling the ash, or searching for a lighter can cause momentary lapses in concentration, leading to accidents. By imposing penalties on smoking while driving, we can discourage this dangerous behaviour and promote a greater focus on the task at hand i.e. driving safely.

Smoking inside a vehicle can significantly impair a driver's visibility. The smoke produced by cigarettes can obscure the driver's vision, making it difficult to see the road, traffic signals, or other vehicles. This impaired visibility increases the likelihood of accidents, endangering both the smoker and others on the road. By penalising smoking while driving, we can deter individuals from engaging in this activity and ensure clear visibility for all drivers. Cigarettes are a known fire hazard, and smoking while driving increases the risk of accidents caused by fire. Carelessly discarded cigarette butts can ignite flammable materials inside the vehicle, leading to fires that can quickly spread and cause severe damage.

By implementing penalties for smoking while driving, we can raise awareness about this fire risk and encourage drivers to prioritise safety over smoking. Smoking while driving not only affects the driver but also exposes passengers to harmful secondhand smoke. Passengers, especially children and individuals with respiratory conditions, can suffer from the adverse health effects of secondhand smoke. By imposing penalties on smoking while driving, we can protect the health and well-being of passengers, ensuring a safer and healthier environment for all. Furthermore, smoking while driving can also lead to physical impairment. Smoking can cause dizziness, nausea, and fatigue, all of which can affect a driver's ability to operate a vehicle safely. These physical symptoms can also be exacerbated by the stress of driving, making the situation even more dangerous. 

Penalties 

Introducing penalties for smoking while driving sends a clear message that this behaviour is unacceptable and poses risks to public safety. By enforcing consequences, we can encourage drivers to adopt responsible habits and make better choices. Penalties can act as a deterrent, prompting individuals to reconsider smoking while driving and promoting a culture of responsible behaviour on the roads. It is important to note that smoking while driving is not only dangerous but also illegal in many countries including Nepal. In Nepal, smoking while driving is considered a primary offense, meaning that a driver can be pulled over and ticketed solely for smoking while driving. 

The introduction of penalties on smoking while driving is a necessary step towards ensuring public safety on our roads. By addressing the issues of distracted driving, impaired visibility, fire hazards, and secondhand smoke exposure, these penalties can help create a safer driving environment for all. Policymakers had recognised the urgency of this matter and took appropriate action to protect the lives and well-being of drivers, passengers, and pedestrians alike. Indeed, the combination of smoking and driving is risky and should be avoided at all costs. It not only puts the smoker at risk but also endangers the lives of other road users. If you must smoke, it is best to pull over and do so in a safe location. Thus, safety should always be the top priority when behind the wheel.


(Dr. Lohani is the executive director at the Health Concern. lohanis@gmail.com.)

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