Police are warning motorists who smoke e-cigarettes while driving that they risk losing their license if their vision is obscured by clouds of vapour.
While vaping while driving is not in itself illegal, police say that an e-cigarette will be treated the same as any handheld electronic device. As such, motorists who are distracted by them, or the clouds of vapour they produce, could face prosecution for driving without due care and attention.
If a police officer deems a driver to be distracted by the e-cigarette they could receive three to nine points on their license, a fine of up to £2,500 or disqualification.
The warning comes as latest figures reveal over three million people in the UK now use e-cigarettes, with the majority of them driving.
“Any person who is distracted in any way could be guilty of an offence – whether that be smoking, vaping or eating,” said Sergeant John Davis of Surrey Police.
“With regards to a scenario where someone could potentially be either distracted or have reduced visibility then there is potential for a crash but it’s certainly not something we have come across – whereas mobile phone distraction is a regular distraction that we come across in fatal/serious collisions.”
Many drivers are aware of the dangers associated with sun glare which can partially impair vision and, in more severe cases, cause crashes.
And it has been suggested that vaping could cause similar visual impairment and, as such, have the potential to result in fatal incidents.
In light of the news, road safety charity Brake have spoken about the use of vapes while driving.
“Driving is the most dangerous thing most of us do on a daily basis; it is a complex task, that requires your full attention to do so safely,” a spokesperson said.
“Vaping while driving increases your risk of crashing, causing visual disruption and physical and mental distraction. Attempting any type of activity that takes your eyes off the road increases your chances of causing a crash, and killing or seriously injuring someone.
“Our roads are busy places, and we would urge drivers to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.”
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