Do you remember the days when every car came with at least one push-in cigarette lighter as standard equipment? Times have certainly changed, but one thing hasn’t changed at all: Smoking while driving remains incredibly common today, and if you smoked while driving back in the day when you were a smoker, you’re almost certainly going to want to vape while driving today.
On the surface, vaping while driving might seem like a pretty simple thing – just as simple as smoking while driving. The truth, though, is that vaping in the car entails certain considerations that don’t apply to smoking. On the bright side, vaping while driving doesn’t involve holding a little ball of fire between your fingers while rolling down the highway – who ever thought that was a good idea? – but on the other hand, there are a few complexities that you may not have considered.
Do you like to vape in your car? These are the things that you should keep in mind.
If You’re Going to Vape While Driving, Obey Your Local Laws
While there are no national laws that forbid smoking or vaping while driving, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with local laws before you start puffing in your car. Even if your state or city doesn’t have a regulation specifically prohibiting vaping while driving, some localities do have laws forbidding the use of electronic devices while behind the wheel. Those laws were obviously written with phones in mind; texting while driving is a potentially deadly mistake.
However, there have been reports of police officers writing tickets on those grounds when drivers have appeared distracted while vaping behind the wheel. If vaping prevents you from paying full attention to what you’re doing, vaping while driving probably isn’t right for you.
It’s also important to note that many localities do have laws forbidding smoking in the car when a child is present, and laws that forbid smoking in certain situations almost always apply to vaping as well. Let’s face it; if you’re driving with a child, it’s probably best to hold off on vaping regardless of what the law says.
A final legal aspect of vaping in the car that you should consider is that, if you’re involved in an accident, the fact that you were vaping at the time could have some bearing on liability. Again, if you’re going to vape in the car, it is absolutely vital for you to ensure that doing so won’t take your attention away from what’s happening on the road.
Crack a Window When You Vape in the Car
As life changing as vaping has been for millions of former smokers, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that vaping is almost definitely less safe than inhaling plain air. That’s why vaping is only for smokers who can’t or won’t quit. Those who don’t already use nicotine should not vape – and they shouldn’t have to be subjected to your vapor clouds if they happen to be passengers in your car. If you’re going to vape with passengers in your car, be kind and crack a window.
Consideration for your passengers isn’t the only reason why you should open a window when vaping in your car. It’s also what’s best for your vehicle. If you’re vaping up a storm in your car with the windows up, a good portion of the vapor is going through your car’s cabin air filter. That’s going to dramatically shorten the filter’s life, and it could potentially be bad for your car’s air conditioning system. You also don’t want all of that vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol to stick to your car’s interior; it’ll make cleaning your car much more difficult than it needs to be.
The final reason why you always want to open a window when vaping in your car is because you don’t want your car to fill with vapor clouds. The clouds will hurt your visibility, and they’ll also attract the wrong kind of attention. When people drive around with their windows rolled up and their cars filled with clouds, it’s often because they’re smoking something that isn’t tobacco. So, if your car looks like you’re hot boxing, someone is almost definitely going to notice.
Use a Tank; Don’t Drip and Drive
If you’re going to drive while vaping, you definitely do not want to use a rebuildable dripping atomizer. Always use something that gives you a good supply of e-liquid, whether it’s a vape tank or a pod system. Using an RDA requires you to keep an e-liquid bottle handy because you need to wet the atomizer’s wick after every few puffs. That’s fine if you’re sitting down at home, but it’s not conducive to driving at all. Dripping requires two hands, and dripping while driving means that you don’t have full control of your car. Just don’t do it.
Don’t Use a Mechanical Mod While Driving
As we’ve mentioned elsewhere on this site, using a mechanical mod is really not the best idea in terms of vaping battery safety. That’s because, unlike regulated vaping devices, mechanical mods have no built-in safety features. You’ve probably read about the terrible incidents in which vaping devices have unexpectedly overheated or exploded during use. When those things happen, they almost always happen with mechanical mods simply because mech mods provide no warnings about short circuits, overheating and other potentially dangerous problems.
When you’re driving, though, mechanical mods create yet another potential safety concern. One of the features that’s been a part of vaping devices almost since the beginning is the automatic puff timer. If you puff on a vaping device for several consecutive seconds without stopping, the device automatically cuts off to prevent the battery from overheating. That, however, doesn’t happen with mechanical mods. A mech mod will happily sit there firing as long as you hold the button down – and if the mod happens to be in your purse or in your car’s center console while that happens, you could have a very serious problem. If you’re a mech mod user, keep that device at home when you drive.
Remember That Vape Tanks Tend to Leak During Elevation Changes
If you live in a mountainous region, you need to be mindful of elevation changes when vaping in the car. That’s because vape tanks tend to leak during ascents of more than a few thousand feet. The reason why a tank can hold e-liquid without leaking is because the air pressure that you generate when you vape creates a weak vacuum inside the tank. During an ascent, though, the air pressure inside the tank increases, breaking the vacuum and pushing the e-liquid out through the tank’s intake vents. If that happens, you’ll end up with a cup holder full of vape juice.
Because you can’t do anything to prevent air from expanding at altitude, there’s no way to completely avoid a leaking vape tank if you’re going to do some mountain driving. You can, however, minimize the potential loss by driving with your tank partially empty. That gives the expanding air a little room and can help to prevent your tank from dumping its contents at altitude. Simply begin your drive with your tank half empty, and when you reach the highest point of the drive, find a place to stop the car and refill your vape. Your tank won’t leak during the decent of your drive; it’ll only leak during the ascent.
Don’t Leave Your Device or Batteries in Your Car
The final thing that you need to remember about vaping in the car is that batteries are a bit like people and animals in that they don’t want to be left in a hot car while you’re out and about. Storing or using a lithium-ion battery at a temperature higher than about 122 degrees Fahrenheit is potentially dangerous. The temperature inside your car, meanwhile, can easily exceed 130 degrees if you park your car in the sun for an hour during an 80-degree day. Freezing temperatures are equally bad for lithium-ion batteries, so for maximum safety, you need to keep your batteries within a temperature range that’s comfortable for you. Don’t ever leave your vaping device or batteries in your car.
Do you have a vaping device with removable batteries? If you do, you’re probably going to want to bring a spare pair of batteries if you happen to find yourself hitting the road for a long trip. If you’re going to travel with spare batteries, you need to place them in a protective carrier that prevents them from touching each other and other metal objects. One of the most common reasons why vaping batteries explode is because people carry them improperly – such as in their pockets along with keys and loose change.
If any conductive object touches a battery’s positive and negative terminals simultaneously, it’ll cause a short circuit and a potential fire. That’s an extremely dangerous situation, and you can avoid it easily by carrying loose batteries in holders designed for the job.