Ban on smart watches for drivers urged

Ban on smart watches for drivers urged

Much in the same way that mobile phones have been shown to present a significant risk to road safety, the launch of new wearable devices like smart watches means calls are now being made for this technology to also face a ban on its use by motorists.

This is the stance of vehicle safety organisation SmartWitness, which believes the expected popularity of smart watches in the coming years could present a serious risk to all road users.

SmartWitness head of international sales Mark Berry stated: "Apple's launch of the Apple Watch this week is going to bring wearable smart watches into the mainstream and the effect on increased driver distraction could be disastrous.

"There is currently no legislation to ban the use of smart watches whilst driving despite the fact that tests have shown that they cause even more driver distraction than mobile phones."

Mr Berry cited a recent study Transport Research Laboratory, which showed a driver reading a message on a smart watch would take on average 2.52 seconds to react in an emergency, compared to just 0.9 seconds for a driver who did not face this form of distraction.

Overall, this difference in reaction times was shown to equate to a vehicle travelling an additional 36.6 ft when travelling at 50 mph – a distance that could mean the difference between life and death in an emergency.

It is therefore essential that steps are now taken to remove the temptation for individuals to focus on their latest gadgets than the road ahead of them.

The use of mobile phones without a hands-free kit have been banned for motorists in the UK since 2003 and SmartWitness would now like the Department for Transport to issue similar legislation outlawing the use of smart watches for all vehicle operators.

"With the numbers of owners about to significantly rise, this issue needs to be dealt with immediately," Mr Berry concluded.

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