How Dangerous Is It To Drive and Look at Your Apple Watch?

by James A. Martin on May 27, 2015

in Apple Watch Experience, Apple Watch Problems, Apple Watch Tips

Can a wrist watch get you busted for not following hands-free driving laws? More importantly, is using Apple Watch while driving dangerous?

In Quebec, Canada, a driver said he was fined $120 and given four points on his driving record, according to 9to5Mac. His offense? Using his Apple Watch to change music while driving.

Meanwhile, the LaMarche Safranko Law blog reported in April that an Apple Watch was “a new way to get a 5 point traffic ticket.”

Under New York State’s Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1225-d, for instance, the Apple Watch is likely to fall under at least four definitions of a portable electronic device, such as a two-way messaging device, a portable computing device, “or any other electronic device…used to input, write, send, receive, or read text for present or future communication.”

Translation: If you use such a device while driving, you’re subject “to the same five point traffic ticket as someone talking on their cell phone, or texting while driving,” according to the law blog.

You might assume using Apple Watch for navigation or dictating text messages via Siri behind the wheel is safer than using your iPhone for those tasks. It’s not. On the few occasions I’ve tried both, I’ve found myself looking at the tiny Apple Watch screen way more than I would have needed to look at my iPhone screen. It felt unsafe. And as a result, it probably was.

Apple Watch Apple Maps

As tempting as it is to use your awesome new Apple watch, don’t do it while you drive. OK, you can glance at the time for a split second, but that’s it. Otherwise, you’re taking what could be a big risk.

Plus, let’s be real: Apple Maps still sucks. It sucks on an iPhone. Therefore, it sucks on an Apple Watch. So why risk a ticket or an accident because of a sucky navigation app?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Nate June 5, 2015 at 12:12 pm

I’m genuinely curious – what part of Apple Maps qualifies it as “a sucky navigation app?” I personally find the UX and layout FAR more intuitive than Google Maps (I occasionally need to check Google Maps for something, and I can’t for the life of me make heads or tails of the non-iOS way things are laid out there), and the data on the backend has long ago improved to the point of being a non issue for me. And the root-level integration with the rest of the Apple ecosystem gives it an obvious leg up. Public transit is missing in Apple Maps, to be fair, so that’s enough reason to not use it for those who need it.

I know a lot of people who had a bad experience during the initial botched switch to Apple Maps, and who have never looked back, choosing to make it the butt of jokes regardless of the actual current state of the service.


James A. Martin June 5, 2015 at 2:46 pm

Hi Nate, I agree that Apple Maps looks great and has a nice interface. But the accuracy of the directions it gives me still has lots of room for improvement. In San Francisco, where I live, I get good directions about 50 percent of the time. So I end up using Google Maps a lot more. Truth is, all GPS apps and devices give ducky directions some percentage of the time, in my opinion. Apple Maps still seems to do it more often than some others I’ve used. Thanks for your comment!


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