Drivers who vape behind the wheel could be refused an insurance payout if they have a crash at the time.
Vaping drivers are a “growing and concerning trend” for road safety, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, while car insurers could include exemptions in policies in the near future.
Although using an electronic cigarette whilst driving isn’t illegal itself, having the clouds of vapour obstructing vision, or being distracted by the device itself, is.
Car leasing specialist AMT spoke to car insurance experts and safety charities to find out how risky it can really be and what the consequences could be in the near future. As a result, the company believes drivers shouldn’t vape at the wheel at all.
Nick Lloyd, Head of Road Safety at RoSPA, explained, “Distracted driving is a leading cause of road accidents in the UK. Any secondary activity which takes eyes off the road is potentially dangerous. As well as being a physical distraction, vaping while behind the wheel can create visibility problems if clouds of vapour are produced.
“Although it is not currently prohibited in law, drivers choosing to vape while on the road is a growing and concerning trend. If using an electronic cigarette whilst driving causes a motorist to become involved in a collision, then the activity could be considered careless driving – which is an offence.”
The increase in vaping’s popularity means that car insurance firms are wary of the hazards it can pose. Specialist car insurance broker Carbon believes that, as the number of people vaping continues to increase, restrictions on insurance claims could be introduced.
A spokesperson for the firm said, “There could be exclusions written into some insurance policies in the future – particularly as the number of people who vape increases. Vaping is gradually becoming more socially acceptable, and so is more likely to become a factor in insurance claims.
“For many vapers, the illusion of smoke is part of what substitutes for cigarettes. The risk of being distracted by the device itself also still remains.
“Even though our panel of insurers doesn’t currently ask whether drivers vape when they’re looking for a quote, it may well be something that gets asked in the near future.”
As a result, AMT believes the time has come to urge drivers not to vape at the wheel at all.
The company’s general manager Ian Wright said, “It’s apparent that there are serious concerns about how significant a factor vaping can play in causing crashes.
“With driver distraction already contributing towards a third of crashes on UK roads, AMT is urging drivers to simply avoid vaping at the wheel. Partly to benefit the safety of all Britain’s 33 million motorists, and partly to avoid having an insurance policy voided when it’s needed most.
“If the insurance industry does indeed start to include exclusions in policies that allow for policies not to apply when the driver or their passengers have been vaping, it could be a nasty surprise for someone faced with a huge bill despite not technically falling foul of the law.”