If you're one of the estimated 34.3 million adults in the U.S. who smoke cigarettes or one of the 10.8 million Americans who use e-cigarettes or “vapes,” you've probably done so behind the wheel at least once.
Research shows that smoking or vaping while driving is surprisingly common and, although it isn't illegal, it definitely isn't safe.
Each year, distracted driving leads to accidents that injure approximately 400,000 people and kill an additional 3,000 or so, costing nearly $40 billion a year. And as far as driver distractions go, smoking is a doozy.
Think about it: when smoking a cigarette on the road, you may have to look around for your pack or lighter, light the cigarette and smoke it, then dispose of it safely. Vapes may need to be refilled, have their mouthpieces adjusted, or have their batteries recharged or changed. It doesn't matter if these actions are completed quickly; even distractions of just a few seconds can have devastating consequences.
If you have to smoke or vape while driving, here are a few things you can do to reduce your risk of causing a crash:
- Set up your smoke before you go. Your vape should be filled, charged, and ready to go—and traditional smokers should have their cigarettes lit—before you start driving.
- Open your window. Clouds of smoke from your cigarette or vape can fill your car, obstructing your vision and increasing your risk of an accident.
- Consider switching to a different vaping liquid. If you do vape with your windows up, be aware that some e-vape liquids leave a heavy residue on car windows that can reduce your visibility.