Apple Watch a bigger distraction than iPhone behind the wheel

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Photo: Apple
Photo: Apple

One of the biggest selling points of the Apple Watch might be that it will free you from the attention-sucking clutches of your iPhone. A new study by the Transport Research Laboratory in Wokingham, UK, found that using your Apple Watch while driving is significantly more distracting that your iPhone 6.

Safety advocate firm SmartWitness is calling for a ban on smartwatches after the study discovered that drivers reading a text message on their smartwatch take more than a half second longer to respond to an emergency than someone reading on a smartphone.

Drivers with a smart watch took 2.52 seconds to react to an emergency maneuver, whereas someone talking to a passenger would react within 0.9 seconds. Smartphones reaction times averaged around 1.85 seconds.

Legislation to ban mobile phones while driving was put forward in the U.K. back in 2003, but a similar law has not yet been proposed by lawmakers. However, with wearables gaining more traction in 2015, and CarPlay on the rise, the number of distractions in the car continue to grow.

A recent survey found that over 500,000 motorists in the U.K. alone still drive while using a phone. Enforcing a ban on smart watches could be even harder. To keep drivers less distracted, Apple Watch does come with an Airplane mode, but unless a driver starts flashing his heart beat at cop, it’ll be practically impossible to catch distracted Apple Watch drivers in the act.