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Last Updated: Monday, 14 May 2007, 11:31 GMT 12:31 UK
Head to head: Smoking and driving ban
Safety campaigners are calling on the government to make smoking behind the wheel an offence.

If someone runs into me whilst wearing a flatcap, is that an excuse to ban flat caps?
George Dowd

Supporters of the proposal say smoking is a dangerous distraction and believe a ban could reduce the number of road accidents.

But its critics argue legislation around smoking is spinning out of control.

Here, representatives from either side of the debate explain their views on a ban on smoking while driving.

Simon Ettinghausen, from the Local Authority Road Safety Officers' Association

Simon Ettinghausen

Driving is quite a complicated task which requires the driver to give their full attention to the road. Anything which distracts from that in any way is a risk.

So we are highlighting smoking and driving as a possible risk and suggesting they should not do it.

There is some evidence published by an Australian university that found those who smoke have more crashes than people who don't smoke, and people who are smoking have more crashes than people who aren't.

There is no research in this country and that is perhaps something we could call for.

We are certainly not against smoking or drinking. We are against drinking and driving, and against smoking and driving.

There's a difference between fumbling for a cigarette packet, taking one out, lighting it, smoking and then trying to dispose of it to just changing gear or indicating.

Even changing a CD is a fairly quick thing - smoking can last a few minutes and in that time something can happen that requires your attention and you won't be able to act.

Simon Clark, of the pro-smoking organisation Forest

Simon Clark

Is it really a danger? I would like to ask if there is evidence to say that smoking while driving can actually cause accidents.

Are you going to ban people from retuning the radio or changing a CD?

There's even evidence that turning the climate control can be more distracting than smoking while driving.

One of the biggest distractions is talking to other passengers. I've even heard it said that singing to yourself can be more of a distraction.

There needs to be evidence that it is dangerous. Then we have to be sensible because there are lots of distractions - you have one hand on the wheel when you are changing gear.

We already have laws to do with reckless driving and driving without due care and attention.

You don't need any more legislation - the whole thing is getting ridiculous

The anti-smoking lobby have jumped on this and said 'oh yes we must ban smoking in cars'. They want to make it more difficult for people to smoke.




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