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Do people who smoke cigarettes crash more often?

You’ve probably heard that smoking isn’t good for your health, but does that go beyond the smoke itself? What about car accidents? Are you at an increased risk if you smoke and drive?

You are. While this is so common that cigarette lighters are built directly into many vehicles, it still raises your risk of an accident significantly. One study found that smokers were 1.5 times as likely to crash as those who were not smoking.

Why is this true? The study could not say for sure, of course, but the researchers had three different theories. One is that drivers were simply distracted. For example, a driver could be looking down to light a cigarette, brush away ash that had fallen on his or her pants and inadvertently drive over the center line. In this way, it could be just as dangerous as any other distraction that leads a driver to think about anything other than driving and to look anywhere other than the road.

Another theory is that the toxicity of the carbon monoxide itself could play a role. Researchers did say they needed to do more studies to find out for sure.

Finally, they guessed that there could be behavioral differences between those who didn’t smoke and those who did. Would drivers who willingly took the risk of smoking also be more likely to take risks while driving?

While the link may not be clear, the risk is. If you’ve been hit by a driver who was smoking and suffered a serious injury, you may need to know what options you have to seek compensation.

Source: NCBI, “Risk of automobile accidents in cigarette smokers.,” RJ Brison, accessed May 31, 2017

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