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‘Keep hands off Apple Watch while driving’

11:46 17 September 2014

Early adopters of the new Apple Watch are being warned not to use it while driving.

Early adopters of the new Apple Watch are being warned not to use it while driving.

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In the wake of the new Apple Watch’s arrival, early-adopters are being warned that using it while driving could be a deadly mistake that lands them in jail.

Smart watches can issue regular updates from internet services, apps and the user’s mobile phone, but the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) is urging people to turn them off while at the wheel.

In a statement the IAM said: “The latest piece of wearable technology from Apple will allow users to make and receive calls, check their messages and monitor their health by operating the device on their wrists. However, the IAM warns that this could significantly impair driving performance – being a major cause for distraction and road accidents.”

Past research from the organisation has suggested mobile phones were a contributing factor in nearly 2,000 serious accidents between 2006 and 2010, including 110 fatal crashes.

“Constant alerts will require motorists’ regular attention,” the IAM’s statement continues. “As opposed to using a legal hands-free piece of equipment the Apple Watch will require drivers to use two hands to operate the device – impacting speed, lane position and time spent looking at the road.”

The government has confirmed that using a smart watch while driving will carry the same penalty as using a mobile phone at the wheel, which is three penalty points and a £100 fine.

But if a user causes a fatal collision, the sentence is imprisonment.

Neil Greig, IAM director of policy and research, said: “A smart watch has the potential to be just as distracting as any other smartphone device. Indeed, more so if you have to take your hand off the wheel and your eyes off the road to interact with it.

“Enforcement will be difficult for the police, but powers exist to seize and ‘interrogate’ devices in the event of a serious crash.

“The very device that distracted you also has the power to convict you.”

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