The Apple Watch is set to be released April 24th, putting many people’s minds on smartwatches. When it comes to any emerging technology, it is important to consider the potential negative impact it may bring. 

One area in which one could see smartwatches having the potential to have negative effects is traffic safety. One could easily imagine a situation in which a driver who is wearing a smartwatch may be tempted to use the functions of the watch while they are driving. 

Drivers reading messages on a smartwatch take 36% longer to react to emergencies on the road than those using a smartphone without a Bluetooth hands-free device, according to a study from the U.K.’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL). Drivers in the study who read a message on a smartwatch took 2.52 seconds to react to an emergency situation like a pedestrian wandering into their path, while smartphone users took only 1.85 seconds.

Given this study’s results and the general dangers associated with distracted driving, one hopes that all drivers who end up getting a smartwatch take care to avoid being distracted by their watch when driving.

It is a scary new world where driving is concerned. The hazards of using hand-held devices such cell phones while driving have been well documented. Most states have laws regulating their use (either for calls, texting and/or emails). For instance, West Virginia currently bans texting while driving for all drivers, and bans cell phone use for drivers under the age of 18. Distracted driving due to cell phone use, particularly texting, has been the subject of discussion in previous blog posts by Colombo Law. But will those regulations apply to a cell phone that is a watch?

Some argue that having the equivalent of a mini-computer on your wrist is just too tempting to use, and therefore too much of a likely distraction to driving. Even if using the watch for a navigational system, or a similar driver assist app, the fact that the information is on the driver’s wrist means that one hand must remain steady while the other hand accesses the information which leaves no hand entirely devoted to driving. Add to that the fact that the watch and its design is new, and therefore a big learning curve will accompany its usage, and now a driver is fumbling with new apps on a small screen on his or her wrist while he or she is supposed to be driving.

When a driver gets distracted behind the wheel, whether it be by the latest tech device or something more basic like the radio or a food or drink, and they cause an accident which hurts others, there may be legal recourse for those injured in the accident. Personal injury lawyers can give legal guidance to motorists who have been injured as a result of a distracted driver’s actions. 


by Colombo Law
Last updated on - Originally published on