19/7/16 - Apple Watch Safety Concerns:
As millions of us dip our toe into the rapidly advancing pool of technology available today, the introduction of a smart watch seems an obvious choice for smartphone users. But could something as innovative and inspiring as the Apple watch really cause serious injury, or even death?
In an open letter to Apple head office, the philanthropic organisation PoliceWitness.com, who help the public assist the police with holding bad drivers to account, suggests it could be placing the road user in danger
Concerns were raised prior to the launch of the Apple watch about the potential to distract its wearers who, whilst behind the wheel of vehicle, are bombarded with emails, texts, activity updates and alerts which are automatically broadcast to their wrists.
The original concerns were that drivers may be tempted to press its buttons as they drive, however the reality is they don’t need to. With just a slight movement of the wrist, akin to checking the time, the Apple watch seamlessly relays its information to its owner, regardless of the fact that they may well be navigating busy roads, near schools, changing lane or pulling out from a junction. Its wanton desire is to provide its owner with indiscriminative amounts of data, regardless of the serious safety implications.
Whilst using a handheld device when driving is illegal, and carries a penalty of £100 fine and 3 points on the licence, a smartwatch is technically not a handheld device and therefore users of such a technology may think that they are operating it within the law. However, drivers who are distracted by their smartwatch whilst driving may be committing the offence of driving whilst not in proper control of a vehicle and the punishment is identical to that of using a mobile phone whilst operating a vehicle.
Chairman of PoliceWitness.com, Matt Stockdale is a proud new owner of an Apple Watch and was so shocked by the distracting nature of the device that he immediately wrote to Apple imploring them to release a software update to address the issue. Matt said “I am a massive fan of anything Apple, but was taken aback when I started to receive alerts as I drove. Being very mindful of the risks of using a mobile phone whilst driving, I am vigilant when it comes to road safety, so when I found myself drawn to the images that would just appear on my wrist, I knew I must act before someone suffers serious injury or worse”.
He added “I’ve no doubt at all in my mind that smartwatches, like the Apple watch, have been the cause of numerous collisions and incidents, but are not yet being recorded”.
In the letter to Apple, Matt Stockdale acknowledges that Apple leads and rarely follows; his hope that despite motorists contending with other distractions, Apple may be prepared to lead the way to make this technology far safer when its owner is behind a wheel.
PoliceWitness has also alerted RoSPA, the Royal Society of the Prevention of Accidents to these safety concerns in an effort to further highlight and promote the potential risk to both motorists and pedestrians alike.