Charlotte Drivers Face Distracted Driving Risks Due to Smart Watches

In April, Apple released the company’s first smart watch. Over the course of the first week, about a million of the watches were sold, including to many people in Charlotte, Concord, Fort Mill, Indian Trail and surrounding areas. According to Fast Company, estimates suggest that Apple will sell as many as 30 million of these smart watches in the first year the product hits the market. While smart watches have been sold for a while, the Apple device seems to be penetrating broader markets and its release may make wearable technology more accessible and accepted by average consumers. 

An experienced personal injury lawyer knows that this is bad news when it comes to road safety. Drivers are already more distracted than they should be by their cell phones, with as many as 11 percent of motorists on the road using a cell phone at any given time. Although drivers are aware they should not be on their phones, the majority of motorists use them anyway. Smart watches, which will be worn on the wrist and which instantly alert drivers to communications, are likely to be an even bigger distraction and thus make the risk of distracted driving accidents even more serious.

Smart Watches Can Significantly Increase Crash Risks

Since smart watches are relatively new, there is not a large body of research available yet on the type of impact this technology is likely to have on motor vehicle safety. However, studies that have been done have provided bad news. The research suggests that the accessibility of smart watches means that motorists are more likely to be distracted by them than they are by phones. Motorists are more likely to look at the watches, to respond to alerts, and to stare at the screens for longer.

The data from the studies conducted on smart watches have prompted many safety advocates to urge an outright ban across the United States on the use of a smart watch while a vehicle is being operated. There are a few issues with this though. The first is that it often takes the law a long time to catch up with technology. Smart watches are being worn by millions already and it is unclear whether current distracted driving laws ban the use of these watches while behind the wheel. Furthermore, because a watch is worn on the wrist, it is likely going to be very difficult for law enforcement officers to be able to effectively identify when someone is breaking the law through the use of a smart watch. This makes any laws prohibiting their use difficult to enforce.

Although it may be hard to ban smart watches, motorists need to be aware of the significant risk that these devices can present to their safety behind the wheel. Fast Company reports that most experts recommend people not use these watches while operating their vehicles. A driver who chooses to use a smart watch could be putting himself and others at risk and could be held responsible for any accidents that result from his distraction.