World Journal of Preventive Medicine
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World Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2017, 5(1), 1-9
DOI: 10.12691/jpm-5-1-1
Open AccessArticle

Smoking while Driving: Frequency, Motives, Perceived Risk and Punishment

Francisco Alonso1, , Cristina Esteban1, Sergio A. Useche1 and Mireia Faus1

1DATS (Development and Advising in Traffic Safety) Research Group, INTRAS (University Research Institute on Traffic and Road Safety), University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain

Pub. Date: December 27, 2016

Cite this paper:
Francisco Alonso, Cristina Esteban, Sergio A. Useche and Mireia Faus. Smoking while Driving: Frequency, Motives, Perceived Risk and Punishment. World Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2017; 5(1):1-9. doi: 10.12691/jpm-5-1-1


When dealing with the duality of traffic accidents and road safety, smoking while driving is one of the factors that, despite the social beliefs and/or misconceptions, causes a large number of injuries and deaths worldwide. Although smoking is a well-known harmful behavior for people’s health, it affects health and safety in many ways, perhaps more than some segments of the population can imagine. This is the specific case of drivers. The main objective of this study was to describe the behavioral and representational aspects of drivers that modulate the smoking-accidents relation. Specifically, it focuses in the frequency and reasons why drivers smoke while driving. On the other hand, it was also considered the perception of drivers regarding the probability of penalty, the penalties imposed, and their severity. Finally, drivers’ opinion on the effectiveness of such penalty in order to change this behavior was also studied. A sample of 1100 Spanish drivers was obtained from a national sampling process. The results showed that approximately the 11% of drivers circulate regularly smoking. Among the specific reasons, the most common is that constitutes a habit of the interviewed driver. Regarding punishment, drivers considered as limited the probability of being caught. Moreover, there has been no respondents who have been fined for this behavior while driving. In general, it seems that drivers are aware of the risk implied by this behavior. However, there are very few drivers who value this as a high-risk behavior. This agrees with the respondents' opinion that it is, in other words, driving under a low sense of responsibility. This, it results logical that the sanction that the respondents believe more appropriate for the behavior of smoking while driving is an economic penalty. As a conclusion, it has been remarked that there is a clear lack of correspondence between the risk perceived in this misbehavior and the frequency and motives argued to perform it while driving. It is worth mentioning that it makes important to improve the awareness and monitoring of this behavior among Spanish drivers as a manner to, first, promote healthy habits among key sectors of population, and, second, to prevent potential road crasher related to the psychomotor impairments that this behavior implies on driving performance.

smoking driving road safety infraction normative driving misbehaviors

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