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Drivers throwing lit cigarettes out of cars - what to do?

Original post made by Grace, Highland Oaks, on Aug 10, 2009

Just wanting a reality check here: what does one do when the driver in front of you rolls down the window and flings a lit cigarette out, in stop-and-go traffic? It's happened twice in the last week; once it nearly hit the hood of my car, and the other time, it started rolling down toward the side of the road... Hmmm, lit cigarette, dry grass, fire season...

What is with these drivers and is it ok to honk at a person or flash your lights when they do something this unsafe for everyone? I'm guessing that if they're inconsiderate or thoughtless enough to do this, they're probably the kind of driver who might take retaliation? But it's just not safe, especially during the summer.

Constructive conversation on the topic welcomed, and thanks for reading.

Comments (27)

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Posted by Big Poppa
a resident of Del Prado
on Aug 10, 2009 at 8:01 pm

Unless you're a police officer and on patrol don't do anything. You don't know who that person so why would you want to put yourself in a potientaly dangerous situation. Don't call 911 and report it because it's an infraction and the police cannot cite him/her because they did not witness the violation.


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Posted by Juan
a resident of Del Prado
on Aug 10, 2009 at 8:04 pm

it is not a big deal and we have bigger issues to deal with come on you need more to think about.


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Posted by M
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 10, 2009 at 10:23 pm

You can't assume that just because they flick a cigarette that they are the kind of person who would retaliate, some people just don't think about what they are doing or how it will or could backfire on them. We should all stop assuming the worst in everyone.It is better to educate than condemn people, assume they don't know better until they prove to you that they are nasty. With that said bumper to bumper traffic is maybe not the best place to take action, as people are typically stressed out to the breaking point as it is. Other than that if you feel compelled to say or do anything always make sure it is done in a non confrontational manner, and that you don't end up sounding or looking judgmental. Both of these things will likely end in some kind of negative reaction on the flicker's part. All in all just use good judgment and show the flicker the same respect you would want if you were in their place. That's my advice.


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Posted by younger and dumber
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2009 at 10:56 pm

Many years ago I was stopped at a light behind a person who threw a lighted cigarette into the grass in the median. Before it could light the grass I jumped out, picked up the butt and knocked on the car window. When the driver opened the window I said "I think you dropped this" and dropped the still lit butt into his lap. Lucky to still be alive I think but he might never have done such a stupid thing again. I do not recommend that action in these days of road rage and morons who drive.


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Posted by J
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 11, 2009 at 10:09 am

As a motorcycle rider, this is a sore point with me, as I have been hit by these discarded cigarettes- Not a pleasant experience

I'm not certain why these individuals don't seem to consider that littering- after all, those cigarette butts are both a fire hazard and an eyesore. I would love to see the police start citing for littering when these are tossed from a car window


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Posted by Troll Alert
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 11, 2009 at 10:17 am

Troll Alert Tracking _ name J


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Posted by Big Poppa
a resident of Del Prado
on Aug 11, 2009 at 9:24 pm

Police DO cite when they see someone throwing items out of a window.


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Posted by Qwerty
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2009 at 3:43 am


I see this happen all the time as well, but have been fortunate not to have had my car or motorcycle hit with a cigarette butt. I don't do anything about it because who knows if the person is a nut job that will get annoyed and retaliate or do something stupid. A month or so ago I was on 580 about to get off at the Santa Rita exit and had the dude next to me start drifting into my lane. Of course I honk at him to let him realize he needs to wake up and pay attention. His reaction? He actively swerved his car towards mine as if he wanted to run me off the road and into the shoulder. What a nut! and all because I honked at him. weirdo.

I liked what "younger and dumber" did, but I agree, that sort of thing is too risky these days, although I did think the story was funny.











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Posted by John
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 12, 2009 at 8:23 am

These people are morons. I see this happen a lot. It seems like they think the world is their ash tray. Fortunately for me I like to fight and will confront them when I see this happen. I usually invite them out of the car and rarely do they take me up on my offer. I love it when people in trucks do this. I will gather all the trash I can from my car and throw it in the bed of the truck. This really pisses them off. When they ask what I 'm doing I tell them. These people suck.


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Posted by Arroyo
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Aug 12, 2009 at 8:34 am

I had an employee who was in stop and go traffic on 205 when the car in front of him threw a lit cigarette out that did immediately start a grassfire. Ironically, they were in stop and go traffic due to a fire farther ahead. He phoned 9-1-1 to report the fire, gave them the location of the offending auto, description of the vehicle, including the license number. He continued to follow the car and said it took less than 5 minutes for a CHP cruiser to locate the guy and pull him over. One down, and ten million to go...!!


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Posted by Johnny
a resident of Country Fair
on Aug 12, 2009 at 8:39 am

Lots of lying going on this blog but no one seems concerned about the fact that when you are on the freeway and I mean any freeway and that there is no traffic on everyone is driving over 80 miles per hour and I bet most on this blog break that law so do not be so self righteous!


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Posted by John
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 12, 2009 at 9:02 am

Hey Johnny-

I bet you are one of those cigarette throwing (Word. removed as offensive word for Town Square Forum). Aren't you? I do not know who you are accusing of lying but if I see you throw a butt out your window you will soon find out it is not me that is lying. There is a big difference between going a few miles over the speed limit and throwing a dangerous object out your window. Forget that is is dangerous but the fact that it could be there for years is bad enough. If you do not care so much let's gather them all up and put them in your front yard. I bet you will care then.


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Posted by Johnny
a resident of Country Fair
on Aug 12, 2009 at 9:12 am

Nope no smoker here and never have been nor have I seen to many people flicking cigarettes out of their windows and I am talking about driving a lot faster than a couple of miles over the speed limit. Go out on highway 5 and tell me how fast you see people driving. Oh and I am saying people are lying when they say they will confront people who smoke and flick the smokes. You never know who you might be dealing with so an intelligent individual should think it through and let the police take care of it.


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Posted by John
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 12, 2009 at 9:25 am

Johnny-

You must not be very observant. The throwing happens a lot. As far as people not being intelligent if they confront people is a pretty stupid comment. I have a PHD and grew up a hockey player so fighting is something I am used to and comfortable with. It does not make me unintelligent. As I agree the weak people like you should just stay in the car I prefer to let them know that what they are doing is wrong for more than one reason. Stick to the topic. We are talking about throwing things out the window not speeding. If you have no experience with that maybe you should find a blog where you can speak to what you know.


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Posted by Johnny
a resident of Country Fair
on Aug 12, 2009 at 10:03 am

John,

Wow! Hockey! now that is a sport for ya and you must be a really tough tough guy. If you would confront someone over a few ashes going out the window you must really be something if you saw a candy wrapper fly out a window. I suppose you are a PHD in behavior management?


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Posted by John
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 12, 2009 at 10:20 am

Yeah... Big words from behind your computer. You just keep on going not saying anything to the guy in front of you because you never know who that person is. I will let you get back to your tough guy sport of ping pong or chess or whatever it is you play. See you tonight when you start your shift at in-n-out, Tough guy.


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Posted by Johnny
a resident of Country Fair
on Aug 12, 2009 at 10:25 am

John, John, John,

why all the anger and name calling? You must learn to relax a bit and enjoy your life. Remember that violence is not the way to solutions but rather communication and understanding is. You know nothing of my likes or dislikes in sport or otherwise so please no nasty talk please. If you do not like people who throw things out fo windows then please utilize our police and such as it is the way of civilized people.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 12, 2009 at 11:43 am

Johnny-
<You must not be very observant. The throwing happens a lot. As far as people not being intelligent if they confront people is a pretty stupid comment. I have a PHD and grew up a hockey player so fighting is something I am used to and comfortable with. It does not make me unintelligent. As I agree the weak people like you should just stay in the car I prefer to let them know that what they are doing is wrong for more than one reason. Stick to the topic. We are talking about throwing things out the window not speeding. If you have no experience with that maybe you should find a blog where you can speak to what you know.>

"grew up a hockey player so fighting is something I am used to and comfortable with"

Really glad you have not confronted the wrong person and that you didn't throw a major macho attitude!

As an HA I can tell you, I would have sent you to the hospital.


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Posted by wow
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2009 at 1:07 pm

How about you put the cigarette out then throw it out the window. Only people who should be mad is the motorcycle riders.


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Posted by Huh?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2009 at 1:45 pm

It's ok to throw garbage out the window? Really?

Although the original question dealt with the fire danger, it's still not kosher to throw (what one might *think* are) extinguished cigarette butts (= garbage) out a car window.


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Posted by D W
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2009 at 2:22 pm

That's strange. I thought PW was going to remove all personal attacks. Oh well.

Cigarette-tossing. It's clueless, and often thrown by a stressed-out life-mismanaging could-care-less-about-others person.

Unfortunately, it will take the end of the recession plus the conclusion of electric car-building before our automakers can come up with an electronic device in each vehicle that spots nicotine and won't allow it anywhere inside the car or truck.

Because, without these, sadly, too many horribly-nicotine-addicted people will continue to smoke while driving and endanger everybody else. What a shame.

I believe that only bluetooth-less text-prone cell phones and all forms of alcohol are worse driving combinations than cigarettes. The angst from inside a crap stick has been horrifically underrated as a threat to commutes longer than anyone can imagine. It's up to us to demand vehicles that will electronically ban drugs and liquor.

For now, we can only be very careful and drive as if we're in a NASCAR race or on 'Survivor'. Thank you, Grace, for bringing up this often forgotten but very important issue. It needs attention.


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Posted by Afterthought
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2009 at 4:10 pm

...usually just a waste of half a smoke if you ask me. Cigs areen't cheap, try & catch it & finish that sucka off!

Smoke em' if ya got em'!


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Posted by Litterbugs beware
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 12, 2009 at 4:49 pm

As a former employee of a local police department, you can write down the license plate of the vehicle that threw the cigarette out and I don't know off hand about P-town, but I know Livermore has a litterbug hotline. I would keep the license plate number handy just in case a vegetation fire breaks out within the same time you are there. this way the police can investigate and might be able to get them for littering and arson.
San Ramon police have done it in the past.


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Posted by Colette
a resident of Del Prado
on Aug 12, 2009 at 5:39 pm

I am sick and tired of people throwing any kind of garbage out of their windows. Cigarette butts included! I see far more cigarette butt litterers than any other kind...do they not think they are littering? Are they okay with throwing their candy wrappers out the window as well? I'd love to hear from someone who throws their butts out the window. This is something that ticks me off and I don't understand it. Maybe someone can enlighten me as to why it is okay to throw your crap out of your car window, negatively impacting our beautiful city. True, there are more important issues as was mentioned above, but I just don't get it and it makes me angry. I will not be the one confronting these morons, as I am afraid I might just confront the wrong one. I use the word moron, as I believe that anyone with the mentality to disrespect our environment and potentially cause a fire just so they don't stink up their own car, isn't playing with a full deck. Rude and disconsiderate. How come you all don't use an ashtray? Too disgusting to look at all those butts?? Yes, I agree with you...I don't want to look at your butt either!!!


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Posted by Duh!
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2009 at 6:41 pm

I use the word moron, as I believe that anyone with the mentality to disrespect our environment and potentially cause a fire just so they don't stink up their own car, isn't playing with a full deck. Rude and inconsiderate.X

Colette,

Dont get me started! IF you or your husband or parents or relatives or friends invest or have a 401K than YOU are disrespectful towards our environment.

Or if you drive in a car, shop at a store, run an air conditioner etc. for that matter!

Can you figure that one out?


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Posted by Smokey the Bear
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 12, 2009 at 7:30 pm

I have no idea who all of these people are throwing cigarettes out the window as I have never seen one and honestly almost nobody smokes anymore so that one person who smokes around town driving is quite busy.


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Posted by What?
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 18, 2009 at 1:49 pm

What do you mean you see more Cigarette butts on the ground than you see trash? Are you people freaking High?!?! There is so much trash all over Pleasanton. Maybe the city should aslo put out more Ashtrays around town. As for cigarettes being tossed from a car thing... S**T happens. No ones a moron even if they do smoke. Colette you will most likely get Cancer regaurdless of smoking. Enjoy.


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