A third of drivers unaware of upcoming car smoking ban

Smoking in private cars with children in the vehicle will be outlawed from October 1st. Credit: Clive Gee/PA

Smoking in private cars in which under-18s are travelling will be outlawed in England by October 1st, but a third of drivers are unaware of the upcoming ban, according to a survey.

As many as 34% of the 2,000 people polled by Allianz Insurance were unaware of the new regulation which is designed to safeguard the health of children.

The survey also found that on average, drivers smoke three cigarettes a week with children in the car.

A third of those polled rated smoking as major distraction while driving, with speaking on a mobile phone the biggest distraction followed by fiddling with the radio/music system.

The survey showed that smoking was more of a distraction than eating or loud passengers, while 67% of those who smoked said lighting up affected attention levels while at the wheel.

Tim Pitts of Allianz said: "We know that eating, drinking or smoking behind the wheel increases the risk of an accident by 150%.

"Today's research shows that mobile phones are the biggest in-car distraction, but we know from previous tests we've undertaken that holding a cigarette is as distracting as holding a mobile when driving."