Drivers who vape at the wheel could land themselves in trouble with the law and risk having insurance claims rejected, according to safety experts and insurance brokers.
The electronic devices can produce huge plumes of vapour and motorists are being warned that if this obscures their vision it could lead to a fine and driving ban.
Vaping while driving itself is not illegal but the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has warned that driving with obscured vision could count as careless driving, which carries a standard fine of £100 and three penalty points.
However, in cases with serious consequences or contested cases that go to court, the fine can climb as high as £5,000.
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.”RoSPA has warned that thick clouds of vapour could pose a crash risk (Photo: Shutterstock)
Insurance experts have also warned that policies could soon include restrictions on vaping or even affect premium prices.
A spokesman for specialist broker Carbon told car leasing firm AMT: “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.”
AMT’s general manager, Ian Wright, commented: “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.”