A driver in Canada has been hit with a fine for using his Apple Watch while driving. While this may not be specifically relevant to UK drivers, it does raise a number of important issues regarding one of the latest trends in digital technology. Police have warned that drivers found to be using smartwatches could be arrested for their bad driving habits, and watch users could face similar penalties to those that are caught talking or texting on their mobile phone while driving.
However, Jeffrey Macesin, the driver in question, has brought up the issue of whether a smartwatch can really be considered a handheld device, because it is actually worn on the wrist, and whether using his Apple Watch to skip tracks on his stereo is any different to using steering wheel controls or stereo controls while driving. It is fair to say that smartwatch use is a grey area, although the CPS may opt to prosecute under a host of other laws if it is determined that the use of a device like a smartwatch led to an accident.
The smartwatch is becoming increasingly popular, and they can be used for a variety of functions, most of which require pairing with a mobile phone or other device. The watch itself is often used simply as an input device or controller for a mobile phone like the iPhone. Changing track on a stereo via a watch means that the driver only needs to use one hand, and it is this, combined with the fact that Canadian law states that the use of a handheld device is illegal, that the driver is questioning.
New technologies typically require the rewriting or amendment of existing laws. Driverless cars are being prepared for testing on UK roads, and the government has already set about drawing up rules and regulations for their use. If driverless vehicles hit the roads, then it has already been stated that somebody must be prepared to take control of the vehicle at any time, but it will almost certainly mean cases question what the controller can and cannot do while the car drives itself.