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Last Updated: Monday, 14 May 2007, 08:14 GMT 09:14 UK
Call to ban smoking while driving
Man smoking in a car
The Highway Code lists smoking while driving as a distraction
Road safety officers are calling on the government to ban smoking behind the wheel to cut the number of accidents.

Simon Ettinghausen, of the Local Authority Road Safety Officers' Association, said smoking was a dangerous distraction.

He said there were concerns the ban on smoking in public places from 1 July might tempt more drivers to light up.

But Forest, a pro-smoking group, opposed the idea while the Association of British Drivers called it absurd.

Representatives from the Local Authority Road Safety Officers' Association are to meet government officials in coming weeks to discuss the proposal.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Isn't this taking the smoking ban a step too far?
Sam Davidson, Bournemouth

The Department of Health said there were no plans to introduce a ban but if the association submitted a proposal, it would consider one.

Mr Ettinghausen said: "Anything you do in the car is a distraction, whether it's eating, drinking, using a mobile phone or smoking. But smoking in particular can be very dangerous."

"If you drop a lit cigarette, your concentration on driving will immediately vanish."

But Simon Clark, of Forest, called for evidence to prove it was dangerous and said there were already laws in place to deal with careless drivers.

'Ban it' mentality

He said: "Are we going to ban people retuning the radio or changing a CD?"

Hugh Bladon, of the Association of British Drivers (ABD), said: "We've got a 'ban it' mentality in this country.

We've got a 'ban it' mentality in this country
Hugh Bladon, Association of British Drivers

"I personally don't think the ABD will want to know about banning smoking."

The proposal has been supported by campaign group Action on Smoking and Health.

The Highway Code lists smoking while driving as a distraction.

In less than seven weeks, smoking in all enclosed public places will be banned across England, bringing it in line with the rest of the UK.




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