All 10 Canadian provinces and many U.S. states today have distracted driving laws that ban the use of handheld mobile communication devices while driving. Despite stiff fines and inherent risks, many flaunt these laws to catch up on everything from social media updates to emails. Wearable devices such as smartwatches may help curb that habit but they pose their own risks. A recent study done in the U.K has found that smartwatches can be as much as three times as distracting as smartphones.
The Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) in Wokingham, Berks showed that a driver reading a message on a smart watch would take 2.52 seconds to react to an emergency manoeuvre, whereas a driver talking to another passenger would react in 0.9 seconds. It was even found to be more distracting than using a handheld mobile (1.85 second delay).
Car safety firm SmartWitness has called upon the U.K.’s Department of Transport to ban the use of smartwatches while driving. “We don’t want to sound like kill-joys and the health and safety police but there’s no doubt that using smart watches whilst driving will cause serious accidents.”
SmartWitness suggests that smartwatches and smartphones should come with a Driver Mode that operates much as Airplane Mode already does on many devices. This new Driver Mode would effectively block all messaging and calls while the person wearing the device is driving.
We’re likely to see more studies look into this matter as smartwatches increasingly make their way onto drivers’ wrists. The challenge will be in coming up with laws that can not only be enforced but also can make a distinction between types of wrist watches. With many smartwatches looking a lot like traditional watches, examples include the Withings Activité Pop and Mondaine Helvetica No 1 Smart, it will not always be easy determine whether an accident was caused by someone using their watch.
Source : The Huffington Post