Despite Cell Phone Bans, Distracted Driving Could Increase Due to Smartwatches
Apple recently announced the new iPhone 6, as well as the Apple Watch, the latest in a growing market of smartwatches. The new iPhones feature larger screens so websites and media can be seen more clearly, and smartwatches like the Apple Watch hook into phones, allowing the user to quickly read emails, text messages, and social media chats.
However, smartwatches could add to the distracted driving problem, which is one of the leading causes of car crashes and car accident deaths in the US. Although drivers do not need to use their phones to view these messages, they still must take their eyes off the road for a split second, and that could lead to a serious accident.
Some smartwatches, such as the Pebble, do not allow wearers to respond to messages. However, the Apple Watch allows users to draw messages in response, and also use a “walkie talkie” feature to hold a conversation.
“The actual offense of distracted driving speaks specifically to holding a handheld device,” OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt in Ontario, Canada. “Because it’s not necessarily being hand held, by definition it would probably be a tough thing to proceed on.”
According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2012, 421,000 people were injured in car accidents involving a distracted driver; 3,300 of those people died from their injuries. Research from the University of Buffalo suggests that as much as 10% of pedestrian visits to the emergency room are caused by distracted drivers. The Department of Transportation estimates that, despite multiple reports of how deadly distracted driving can be, as many as 660,000 Americans are on their phones in some form while driving, every single day.
“If I’m reading a text off my device, I’m not engaged in driving,” Patterson said. “Our position would be, as with the distracted issues, is how it interacts with the driver and does it meet those fundamental distraction issues. Simply calling it a watch I’m not sure completely removes it from the legislation.”
In June of this year, South Carolina became the 45th state to pass texting and driving legislation, but like many states, does not ban some other uses of cell phones in vehicles, such as typing or using GPS. These uses can still create a distracted driving situation, and San Antonio lawmaker Rep. Mike Gallagher has proposed a ban on any cell phone use in the city while driving.
“The main thing has to do with hand-held devices. In other words, if you’re driving down the road, if you can talk to somebody without using hand-held devices you’re fine, but it’s those people that are holding something in their hands,” said Gallagher.
“Remember, driving is not a right, it is a privilege,” Gallagher said. “We owe it to other drivers on the road and ourselves to operate a vehicle in the safest manner.”
The Strom Law Firm Helps Those Injured by Distracted Drivers
If you have been injured by a distracted driver, the South Carolina distracted driving accident attorneys at the Strom Law Firm, L.L.C. will fight for fair compensation for your injuries. Our South Carolina car accident lawyers are prepared to fight for compensation in the courtroom and will defend your right to compensation for your past and future medical bills, lost wages and future earnings, your pain and suffering, and, in the event of a fatal car accident, even wrongful death. Our attorneys offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your personal injury case for distracted driving, so contact us today. 803.252.4800.