Vaping at the wheel? You can be prosecuted for that, police warn

Telegraph Reporters
Clouds obscuring the vision of drivers could see drivers being prosecuted for driving without due care and attention - Solent News & Photo Agency

Senior police officers today warned drivers using e-cigarettes who obscure their vision with huge clouds of vapour that they face prosecution and losing their licence.

Although vaping while driving is not itself an illegal act, it is up to the discretion of police officers to determine what they deem as a potentially dangerous and distracting handheld electronic device.

Those deemed to be distracted by the e-cigarettes could be prosecuted for driving without due care and attention, the penalty of which can be disqualification, three to nine points on your licence, or a fine of up to £2,500.

Officers have said that vaping - which causes excessive amounts of smoke and momentarily blind drivers - could result in fatal crashes.

The warning comes as latest figures reveal over 3 million people in the UK now use e-cigarettes, with the majority of them driving.

Sergeant Carl Knapp with the Sussex Road Policing Unit said: "The smoke caused by vapes are a distraction and the consequences of them can be dire, all it takes is a moment to become distracted and potentially cause a crash and even worse, a fatality."

Drivers are advised to vape with their windows open Credit: Zachary Culpin/Solent News & Photo Agency

Sgt Knapp who has been with the force for 22 years added: "I strongly advise people to pay 100 per cent attention to the roads when driving as anything that takes that attention away has the potential of severe consequences.

"There are no laws prohibiting vaping, however, you need to be in full and proper control of your vehicle at all times.

"If you are going to vape I advise that you open your windows and blow the vapour directly out, just ensure that you are in full control of your vehicle before doing so."

Sergeant John Davis of Surrey Police echoed this comment, adding: "Any person who is distracted in any way could be guilty of an offence - whether that be smoking, vaping or eating.

"With regards a scenario where someone could potentially be either distracted or have reduced visibility then there is potential for a crash."

Many drivers are aware of the dangers of sun glare when driving which can partially impair the driver's vision - in some cases causing crashes.

It has been suggested that vaping could cause a similar visual impairment to sun glare, therefore possibly resulting in similarly fatal incidents.

A spokesperson for the Department of Transport said: "We believe that drivers should always follow the rules set out by the highway code and must always exercise proper control of their vehicle and avoid any distractions, including vaping."