Driver inattention is a major cause of traffic accidents in Dallas-Fort Worth and throughout Texas. As a Ft Worth personal injury lawyer, I know that some of the most common forms of distracted driving in DFW include texting on a cell phone, talking on a hands free cell phone, programming a GPS, eating, applying makeup and even disciplining children. Surprisingly, however, very little attention has been paid to the danger caused by a driver who smokes cigarettes behind the wheel. Aside from the fact smoking any kind of tobacco product is bad for your health, a driver who smokes while driving creates an enormous hazard to other road users. In order to be as safe as possible, drivers must have their full attention and focus on the task at hand and the road ahead. Smoking causes a number of distractions including a visual distraction while they search around their car for their cigarettes and lighter; cognitive distraction as their brain focuses on finding and then lighting their cigarette; and manual distraction as they are required to remove both hands from the wheel in order to light their cigarette. Once the cigarette is lit, the driver will be required to continue to keep one hand off the steering wheel in order to consume the burning cigarette. They will subsequently become distracted by the need to expel ash either into the car’s cigarette tray or else out of the window. The entire process of lighting and smoking a cigarette while driving is extremely dangerous.
Studies Regarding the Danger of Smoking While Driving
The National Institutes of Health recently published a report which thoroughly examined the impact of smoking while driving and its consequences on road safety. The study found that on average, people who smoked while driving were even more distracted than people who used a cell phone. Cigarette smokers averaged 12.0 seconds of distraction (equitable to traveling 525 feet without looking at the road), while cell phone users averaged 10.6 seconds of distraction (traveling 492 feet). The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration strongly discourages smoking while driving in its training material for CDL drivers. The FMCSA conducted its own half-decade study into the dangers of smoking while driving a truck and found that smoking was a source of distraction in 0.9 percent of distraction-related crashes, which equates to approximately 12,780 crashes over the five year period examined.
Your Legal Rights if You Have Been Hit by a Distracted Driver