Most people realize that distracted driving causes accidents, but still turn their attention away from the wheel, consciously or not. The long list of distractions includes cell phones, other passengers rubbernecking, eating, and now smartwatches, which are wearable technology.
Smartwatches, like the Apple iWatch, are hi-tech and versatile, allowing users to text, talk, and play music. Yet, even though they seem to be hands-free, users must move their wrists to see the watch. This usually means removing the hand from the steering wheel and focusing on a tiny screen to read its messages. In many cases, drivers use both hands; one wearing the watch, and the other to use its functions.
More consumers are buying smartwatches, so it is likely that there will be a corresponding increase in distracted driving accidents. Current figures estimate that 27 percent of car crashes in this country are caused by cellphones. The United Kingdom’s Transport Research Laboratory claims that drivers using smartwatches were at more risk than those using their smartphones. This is because the reaction time for an emergency maneuver by a driver reading a smartwatch message is 2.52 seconds, as compared to 1.85 seconds on a cellphone.
Canada’s The National Post published a story about a college student who was stopped at a light in Ontario and did not proceed when it turned green. A law enforcement officer testified in court that the driver looked at her Apple Watch four times and was not paying attention. The driver argued that Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act that assesses penalties for driving while using a wireless communication device was not applicable in her situation. However, the Justice of the Peace fined her $400, stating that even though watches are smaller than mobile phones, they are just as distracting.
There are currently no laws in the United States that prohibit smartwatch use while driving. Even so, drivers may be subject to the same penalties as cellphone users since it poses the same dangers. Some feel that smartwatches have an even greater risk, since users have them on their wrists, making them a constant distraction. Users are not prone to removing their smartwatches before driving, since they are wearable.
Smartwatches and cellphones are major causes of distracted driving, and we are here to help if you need experienced legal guidance with any type of car accident. Call a qualified Delaware County car accident lawyer at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. at 610-565-3700, or complete an online form today for a free consultation. With offices in Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania, we represent clients throughout Delaware County, Chester County, and Montgomery County.