Do Smokers Drive Faster Than Non-Smokers?

By May 3, 2010 January 22nd, 2018 Auto Accident Lawyer

Smoking behind the wheel is a pleasure that is enjoyed by many smokers who own vehicles, but new studies may show that not only does smoking affect your driving, in the same way that using your cellular phone, eating, disciplining the kids or finding a good radio station does, distracting you from your primary task of watching the road, but in fact, some recent studies even prove that smokers drive faster than non-smokers and some believe this translates to breaking speed laws and being more careless on the road.

First, let’s examine what happens to your body when you take a drag from a cigarette. The first thing that happens when the smoke enters your body is that your respiration rate will increase, which means that your lungs will have to work harder to get the same amount of air pumped. Your heart rate also increases, making your pulse about 10-25 beats per minute higher and your blood pressure increases by about ten percent. These physiological effects from smoking do produce changes in your body that could cause you to act differently while operating a motor vehicle.

A Brunel University study now says that not only do smokers exhibit more inconsistent driving than non smokers but also drive around twenty three percent faster. Now, with more and more restrictions on where you can smoke, may make drivers more keen to smoke while driving, even if they hadn’t done it before, because of passengers, new upholstery or whatever reason. But its not just the smoking and the associated physiological effects that go with it, that has some people concerned.

The mere act of lighting a cigarette and holding it while driving can be detrimental to driving, some say. While its true that if you subscribe to the ten and two positions of both hands on the steering wheel, which a cigarette makes impossible, you might consider that this can adversely affect your driving. However, there have never been any definitive proof that driving with one hand makes you a poor driver and in fact, have been some studies that prove that a relaxed driver, such as one with one hand on the wheel, might in fact be more ready to react to hazards on the road.

In some areas of the world bans are in place to prevent people from smoking behind the wheel, most notably in the U.K., where police can cite these and other distractions when attempting a conviction for a traffic violation. Dropping a lit cigarette and attempting to retrieve it before it burns a hole in your carpet could certainly cause someone to pay less attention to the road, however, some critics say that depriving someone of the nicotine that they usually get while driving could easily be distracting and cause accidents as well.