28/09/2007

Smokers Targeted In New Highway Code

Motorists who smoke while behind the wheel could face prosecution under a new rule in the latest edition of the Highway Code.

The new revised code, the first for eight years, contains 29 more rules than the previous edition.

These include a new safety code for novice drivers, which offer practical advice like "if you are driving with passengers, you are responsible for their safety. Don't let them distract you or encourage you to take risks," and "never show off or try to compete with other drivers, particularly if they are driving badly."

The code also includes new legislation on vehicle emissions and references new initiatives like quiet lanes, high-occupancy vehicle lanes, homes zones and active traffic management schemes.

Road Safety Minister Jim Fitzpatrick said: "The official Highway Code is for life, not just for passing your driving test. It is a crucial tool for all road users - car drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists, horse riders and pedestrians alike - and applies to every stage of your life. Road safety is a responsibility we all share and everyone should have a copy of the Code to keep their knowledge up-to-date."

However, Andrew Howard, head of road safety for AA Public Affairs, said: "A major change is the code's inclusion of smoking at the wheel as behaviour that police may interpret as a distraction and failure to be in proper control of the vehicle.

"This addition will polarise drivers' opinions both for and against."

(KMcA)

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