Motorists who use Apple’s soon-to-be released smartwatch behind the wheel will put themselves and others at risk of injury or death, a road safety charity has warned.
The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) said using the Apple Watch to make or receive a phone call, read emails or use apps could have the same effect on people’s driving performances as using a hand-held mobile phone.
The organisation said this figure could rise even higher in the future if drivers wear wristwatches connected to their mobiles.
Same penalty as phone use
Users wishing to check up on emails or perform other tasks will need both hands to operate the Apple Watch, as opposed to safer and legal hands-free devices.
This means that drivers are likely to spend less time looking at the road and may not be in control of their speed and lane position, while a stream of alerts and messages may require their attention regularly.
Those who cause an accident because they were distracted by their Apple Watch will face the same punishment as drivers who used a hand-held device – three penalty points on their licence and a fine of £100, according to the Department of Transport.
But the penalty could be far more severe if drivers using a mobile device caused a fatal accident, as Crown Prosecution guidelines state that perpetrators should receive a sentence of two years’ imprisonment in these cases.
Neil Greig, director of policy and research at IAM, said the Apple Watch could be “just as distracting as any other smartphone device”, and maybe even more so if drivers take their hand off the wheel to use it.
He conceded that it may be difficult for officers to enforce official rules, but warned that devices can be seized if there is a serious crash.
Making a claim
If you have been injured in a car crash in which the offender used a hand-held mobile phone, you may be entitled to personal injury compensation.
To find out more call Accident Advice Helpline on 0800 689 0500 or fill in the form on the homepage – it will only take you 30 seconds.
Date Published: September 18, 2014
Author: David Brown