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Trucker, trying to smoke, causes 5-vehicle pileup in Tokyo

27 Comments

Six people were injured Monday afternoon after a truck plowed into four cars at the Oizumi Interchange of the Kan-Etsu Expressway in Tokyo's Nerima Ward, police said. According to police, the accident happened just after noon. The truck driver was quoted as saying he lost control of his vehicle while he was reaching for a cigarette.

Meanwhile, 10 people were injured in an eight-car pileup Monday morning on the Tokai-Hokuriku Expressway at the entrance of a tunnel in Kakamigahara, Gifu Prefecture. Four people were taken to the hospital with minor injuries, police said.

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27 Comments
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Kind of funny that they outlaw the use of cell phones when driving, but they allow drivers to place burning objects in their hands and between their lips when driving. If you apply the same logic to tobacco that they applied to the use of cell phones while driving, then smoking and driving should be against the law as well.

Moderator: Readers, cell phones are not relevant to this discussion.

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sharky: tempted to agree with you, but they're not really the same thing any more than anything else that might distract your attention from the road. I could look away from the road for a second to pop in a CD, redirect the navigation system, you name it. Hell, a bee could fly in your window and distract you enough to cause an accident.

Now, I'm not saying it's not the guy's fault -- it is, and clearly the guy couldn't post-pone his cravings long enough to avoid what happened -- but it's not the same using one hand to hold a handset to an ear, etc.

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Smoking while driving should be banned, for sure, but some people are better at it than others. I once saw a guy smoking and talking on a cell phone while driving. When the car in front of him stopped for a red light, he drove around that car and on through the light, while continuing to smoke and talk on his phone.

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The problem with cells phone use while driving has very little to do with not having both hands on the wheel. Like Smith points out, there are a myriad of ways we drive with one hand while we're reaching for something with the other: Putting a CD in, adjusting the navigation system, turning up/down the volume, taking a drink of beverage, popping a piece of gum in your mouth.

The problem with cell phones is that it distracts the driver's attention significantly from what's going on around him or her to the point of being hazardous. Studies have show that someone engaged in a cellphone conversation displays the same lack of awareness as someone who is driving while intoxicated. In some cases the lack of focus is even worse.

What happened with the truck driver is probably a combination of him trying to take a cigarette out of the box with one hand, which isn't an easy feat when you're driving, and looking down to see if he was successful. Whatever the case, those big trucks are in desperate need of stronger regulation on the roads. Truckers and the rigs they drive scare the bejeezus out of me because of accidents just like this.

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Inattention to driving IS relevant to this discussion. I agree with sharky1...smoking and cell phone use should be equally illegal while driving.

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Instead of banning smoking in all sorts of public places with plenty of space, they should ban smoking for drivers of vehicles. It is dangerous, period.

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I saw a guy messing around trying to lite up a pipe, so I got on my iPhone and called the police. They wanted to know if I was driving and what my license and car was.hmmmm

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Cigarettes in cars are lethal, and not only because of the obvious health risks. Accidents have been caused by driver attention while lighting or stubbing cigarettes, and by temporary blindness caused by the flash of a lighter at night. And a driver who drops a lit cigarette is certainly going to take his eyes of the road and his hands off the wheel. Fortunately, the truck driver in this story is unlikely to be driving anything anytime soon.

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One accident is not a statistic. I would bet plenty of things cause more accidents than smoking but are perfectly legal and no one would think twice about making them illegal. How many accidents have been caused by talking to a passenger?

And does anyone think nicotene withdrawal could not cause an accident? Be careful what you wish for.

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The safest thing is to ban keitais, smoking, eating, drinking, adjusting the stereo while driving, noisy passengers/kids/dogs, peeking at your navi and putting up make-up...if those things are oulawed, the only dangerous thing left is....driving

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Yet another excuse for a spot of smoker bashing! There must be thousands of potential distractions while driving, somebody wants to smoke in his own vehicle no problem, but remember where they are and avoid groping for them! This could easily apply to the non smoker groping for a mint!

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Geeeezzz! More smokerg bashing. Let us all just walk for now on. Now I've heard everything. Smoking is a distraction, CD's are a distraction, etc,etc,..What isn't a distraction. What's next? Let's just stay home and do nothing.

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The only thing that surprises me is the amount of time it is taking to outlaw tobacco usage. Smoking and driving are a dangerous combination. There is no valid argument to the contrary.

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This guy just wasn't paying attention, it would be no different than if he was trying to reach for a couple of french fries or a burger out of a McDonald's bag. On the other hand cigs do offer a threat mints and other foods don't. If I pop a mint in my mouth and I miss. Ohh well, I will find it under my seat when I get out. I miss with a cig into the ashtray, or flick an ash into my lap, or worse. I flick the ash out the window and it blows right back in my eye and have it burn. Ummm..Maybe the smoke can get in your eyes, maybe the cig can fall out your hand and start a fire. I don't smoke, but I've seen this happen many times with those that do. Or how about when idiots throw their cigs out the window and the burning ash becomes this hazardous projectile waiting to fly in someone's window. BTW if someone can add some hazards to a mint other than the fact of someone not paying attention while grabbing one, please do so.

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I hope this man goes to jail for a long time. Smoking must be nanned in public places, like it is in the rest of the civilised world. I thought people werent allowed to smoke while driving in Japan? I see people smoking, using cellphones, and even reading books and manga while driving in this country. Its a small wonder there arent more terrible accidents like this one.

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Saying that smoking while driving should be outlawed is common sense.

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Inattentive driving is the mistake here.. regardless of what it was that he was doing; he was doing it instead of being careful where he was directing the multi-ton vehicle speeding along yes? i do agree that smoking really is potentially very dangerous as far as activities you might choose to distract yourself with while driving, as accidentally dropping something that is on fire is only rarely a good idea.. (o0)

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Why is everyone blaming smoking? If he wasn't reaching for a smoke it would have been his phone, a map, a newspaper, shaving, checking his make up, etc. Too many people in Japan do not take enough care when driving and this is the result. If I had a dollar for every fool I have seen trying to multi-task while driving I would retire. My personal favorite is the newspaper strewn across the steering wheel. As I keep saying, "gambling is illegal in Japan until you get on the roads."

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This has nothing to do with smoking and all to do with taking your eye off the road for a few seconds while reaching for something (or not). We've all done it and probably still do it. Let's just try to avoid doing it as much as possible. Oh, and let's not demonize the trucker driver.

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The gf of a guy I knew in college wrecked his car trying to light a cigarette. Distracted driving will do that. Doesn't matter what the distraction is. The problem is that ANY voluntary distraction should be illegal. Probably are. But the offenders only get written up when they cause an accident. How could you enforce a ban? There aren't enough cops. But the revenue would probably pay big time....

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Props to the truck driver, not only has his smoking antics got lots of sad people crying about the joys of a lil smoking R&R (hell bet he got through a few cigs waiting for the idiots in the cars to move out of the way lol) but he took a stand for personal freedoms.

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No matter how much you or someone you know swears it to be true, humans to not turly "multi-task". You cannot drive and smoke/eat/drink/chat/text/use the phone, or anything else at the same time. What humans do is "multiplex" - rapidly switch our attention through the above mentioned activities then back to driving. If something happens to halt the multiplexing and lock your attention away from driving (like a pack of cigarettes not being where you reached for them), that's when the accidents happen.

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Suckers smoke and cause death.

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Instead of banning smoking in all sorts of public places with plenty of space, they should ban smoking for drivers of vehicles. It is dangerous, period.

Smoking should be banned at a place of work and in the UK where it is that includes your lorry or your cab etc as that is your place of work.

Never understood why smoking is allowed whilst driving - if you smoke enough you are going to cause a problem some time or other whilst paying more attention to a live flame than the road.

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I agree with NO SMOKING when driving a car/truck. Prior to NO SMOKING in public buildings in Canada when behind a car/truck so often there would be this maze of distrucion as someone had dropped a live cigarette on their crotch area or dress.

That is when I made sure I was clear, go down a cog or two & scoot by them & some others to know that I would still be safe.

Now one does not see this because Cdns are trying to stop smoking especially to their children of others in the car.

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The police should be compiling statistics on smoking-related accidents. I'd wager that for every accident caused by cellphone use, there have been dozens caused by smoking-related inattention. But banning isn't the answer. Insurance companies should write clauses into their policies saying that cover will be withdrawn if accidents are caused by smoking, drinking or cellphone use. Let boozing, texting, smoking drivers take responsibility for their actions.

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Fadamor said: If something happens to halt the multiplexing and lock your attention away from driving (like a pack of cigarettes not being where you reached for them), that's when the accidents happen.

So of all the things people multiplex, you want to take away freedom only on this one? And you would stop there? Is that correct?

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