So checking the time on an apple watch, while driving is now a chargeable offence
A student that goes to the University of Guelph has recently been charged with distracted driving charge for checking the time on an apple watch while driving. Apparently wearable tech counts as a distraction when you’re driving.
The charge falls under Ontario’s “distracted driving” law, as part of the Highway Traffic Act, which was amended in 2009 to consider the growing use of cell phones while driving. The Highway Traffic Act now includes the phrase “while holding or using a handheld wireless communication device.”
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The student named Victoria Ambrose stated that she was only trying to check the time, which required her to tap the device so that the display would be visible. She also made the argument that the watch was not connected to her smartphone or any other mobile communication device.
Justice of the peace Lloyd Philipps delivered his judgement after the hearing on May 16th. Victoria Ambrose submitted a statement claiming she was only checking the time on her apple watch while she was pulled over on the University of Guelph campus on April 24th, according to the Guelph Today news report.
The officer that issued the charge was reportedly noticed the light coming off the watch, and stated that the woman was looking up and down at the screen. When the light turned green Victoria Ambrose did not move right away through the intersection, until the police officer shined his lights into the car.
The judge is set on his decision. The reasoning behind this is that “Despite the apple watch being smaller than a smartphone, on the evidence that it is a communication device capable of receiving and transmitting electronic data,” – Stated by Philipps in his ruling.
“While attached to the defendant’s wrist it is no less a source of distraction than a mobile phone taped to someone’s wrist. It requires the driver to change their body position and operate it by touch,” he continued.
Ambrose and the prosecutor have come to terms on the timeline and details of the incident, but both parties disagree on whether an apple watch counts as a handheld device. Ambrose’s Lawyer noted that with changing technologies, especially wearable technology, lawmakers need to be proactive about how to regulate the use of these mobile devices in vehicles and other situations where they could potentially pose a threat to the health and wellbeing of the wearer.