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Resist the Temptation! Put Away Those Smartwatches While Driving

As a driver, smartwatches can seem too good to be true. Just like checking the time, you can easily check any important email, phone, or text updates without reaching for your smartphone. Bad news! Smartwatches are extremely dangerous while driving—and possibly more dangerous than smartphones.

Don’t believe us? Right now, the most widely referenced research is a study by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) in Wokingham, England, which tested drivers using smartwatches compared to other distractions. Here’s what TRL found:

“…a driver reading a message on a smartwatch would take 2.52 seconds to react to an emergency maneuver, 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).” (Source: HuffPost Tech United Kingdom)

Even though a smartwatch “only” resulted in a difference of a 0.67 second delay, that delay is an eternity when driving and enough to significantly increase the chance of an accident.

In the video below, a reporter from the Sunday Times takes a comparison test between different kinds of driving. You can see for yourself that texting while driving is bad, but checking a smartwatch while driving fared even worse—leading to a serious incident during the simulation.

Why You Need to Put That Smartwatch Away While Driving

So, we’ve looked at some data. But you might wonder what specifically makes smartwatches so dangerous? After all, smartwatches seem like they should be less distracting, given that you just check them with a quick look at your wrist.

Here’s why:

  1. Constant alerts—with the temptation to look at them. Unless you turn your smartwatch off or set it to some kind of airplane mode, your smartwatch will constantly alert you about new emails, social media updates, texts, events, and phone calls. Buzz, buzz, buzz goes your wrist. Unfortunately, looking down to check any of these alerts requires you to look away from the road for those precious seconds mentioned above.
  2. Your smartwatch isn’t a normal watch. A normal watch just gives you the time—something you don’t need to check constantly while driving. The physics of checking your smartwatch means you often have to lift your watch hand from the wheel, look down, and angle your wrist to see the information. Next time you get in your car, pretend you’re driving and then check an alert on your smartwatch. Awkward, eh? And how long did you look away from the road?
  3. The information on the watch screen is tiny and hard to read. Perhaps it would be easier to read your alerts if the text was large and easy to see from a distance. But it’s a watch. Glancing at the information means squinting, focusing, and concentrating even harder on that tiny device to look at your alerts.

Additionally, the use of a smartwatch is likely prohibited in Georgia by O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241.1 and O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241.2.

Think about your safety, and about the research and video above. Turn off your smartwatch, hide it, or set it to a non-alert mode. Quite simply, you are endangering your life—and the lives of others—by checking your smartwatch while driving.

Have you been in a car accident that was the result of a distracted driver? Call us for a free consultation.