Safety-minded Kiwis want Apple Watch off the road

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Apple Watch while driving
This is a really bad idea.
Photo: Evan Killham/Cult of Mac

The Apple Watch may not be available in New Zealand yet, but that isn’t stopping some safety-minded organizations from seeking to ban it, and other smartwatches, from use while driving.

“A second’s inattention at the wheel can result in tragedy,” said advocate Caroline Perry of road-safety charity Brake. “Smartwatches and other wearable technology are extremely distracting if used while driving.”

New Zealand law already bans the use of smartphones; violations result in a fine of $80 (about $53 U.S.) and 20 demerit points on the user’s license. Accumulating 100 points in a two-year period will get your driving privileges suspended, so it’s not the lightest penalty. The issue is that this law does not expand to wearables like Apple Watch and its competitors.

Activists like Perry would love for that to change, but in the meantime, she suggests that drivers remove temptation to check one’s watch altogether — by removing the watch itself.

“Our advice to drivers is to take them off and put them out of reach so that you aren’t tempted to use them at the wheel.”

New Zealand isn’t the only country whose laws are trying to catch up to the latest technology. Police slapped a Canadian driver with a ticket for using the Music app on his Apple Watch while driving. Current Canadian law doesn’t specifically refer to smartwatches; only “hand-held [devices] that include a telephone function.”

Driving laws in the U.K. also don’t specify smartwatches, but they do make exceptions for navigational information. So while it’s technically possible that you could legally use Apple’s Maps app while driving, it’s up to whoever pulls you over to decide if you were paying enough attention to the road. And if they say you weren’t, you could be looking at a fine between £100 and £1,000 (about $156 – $1560 U.S.). So it’s probably best not to risk it.

I don’t like the idea of taking my Apple Watch off every time I get into the car, but I do turn Do Not Disturb on when I drive anywhere. This keeps both my Apple Watch and iPhone from trying anything distracting.

Via: NZ Herald