Calls for drivers to stub it out

As the public smoking ban prevents drivers from lighting up in corporate vehicles, road safety campaigners in Northern Ireland have called for the ban to be extended to public vehicles in a bid to cut road traffic accidents.

Norah Ferguson, Road Trauma Support Group chairperson, said: "I feel very strongly that anything that detracts from a driver's concentration could be very dangerous."

Simon Ettinghausen, a spokesman for the Local Authority Road Safety Officers' Association (Larsoa), said that his organisation would meet with transport officials to ask for a ban on smoking behind the wheel to be passed.

"Drivers shouldn't be trying to smoke or eat when they're behind the wheel, they should be concentrating on the task in hand and the road ahead," Mr Ettinghausen said.

"Smoking can be particularly dangerous when lit cigarettes are thrown from open windows: they can hit the car behind causing that driver to get a shock, they can be dropped in the car itself or blown back in by the wind leading to the possibility of injury or fire."

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, environment minister Arlene Foster said: "As I understand it, taxi drivers are not allowed to smoke, so I don't see why it shouldn't be the same for everyone else."

Currently, solicitors may see many people for road traffic accident related claims, but there is no evidence that this would decrease, as Larsoa admits they have no evidence to suggest that smoking is the cause of many accidents.

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