Police warn drivers they could face prosecution for vaping behind the wheel
We all know about the dangers of drinking and driving and texting and driving, but what about the dangers of vaping and driving? Many people vape because they believe it's less harmful than smoking cigarettes, which is debatable. Yet vaping could pose a bigger threat behind the wheel, because the driver is operating an electronic device and exhaling a voluminous cloud of thick smoke.
In the UK, Surrey police warned motorists that in some circumstances they could face prosecution for vaping behind the wheel because their vision is being obstructed. According to RAC, drivers could face the same penalty as getting caught using a mobile phone: receiving three, six or nine points on their license, a possible fine of $3,200 (£2,500) and, in severe cases, a driving ban.
"The smoke caused by vapes is a distraction, and the consequences can be dire," said Sergeant Carl Knapp of the Surrey and Sussex Roads Policing Unit. "All it takes is a moment to become distracted and potentially cause a crash or, even worse, a fatality. There are no laws prohibiting vaping. However, you need to be in full and proper control of your vehicle at all times."
The scenarios will be dealt with individually and specific laws regarding vaping and driving are not expected to be put into place at this time. "Any person who is distracted in any way could be guilty of an offense - whether that be smoking, vaping, eating, etc," explained Sgt. John Davis of Surrey Police. "In investigations that we conduct, any distraction would need to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis."
"With regards a national discussion, it hasn't been raised as an issue, so it's unlikely to be discussed at a national level," Davis continued. "The Highway Code also covers distractions, as does the law. It would be impractical to bring in a law for any new 'distraction' that comes along. The mobile phone laws were brought in and then penalties increased because it became a very real problem."
It remains to be seen if other countries, like America, will implement this policy. Aside from the distraction of the smoke, electronic devices have exploded, in rare instances, with fatal results.