Apple Watch user found guilty of distracted driving

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in Apple Watch
Arguing than an Apple Watch is no safer "than a cellphone taped to someone's wrist," a Canadian judge determined a woman who looked at it while stopped at traffic light violated Ontario's distracted driving statute.

Apple Watch distracted driving


According to The National Post the woman, college student Victoria Ambrose, received the ticket when a University of Guelph police officer noticed her stopped at the light amid "the glow of an electronic device." The officer claimed she looked at it four times, causing her to not move immediately once the light turned green, the officer testified.

Ambrose argued in court that the province's Highway Traffic Act, which proscribes penalties for driving "while holding or using a handheld wireless communication device," doesn't apply in her case, but the Justice of the Peace rejected that argument, fining Ambrose $400.

"Despite the Apple Watch being smaller than a cellular phone, on the evidence, it is a communication device capable of receiving and transmitting electronic data," Justice Lloyd Phillipps said, according to the Post. "While attached to the defendant's wrist, it is no less a source of distraction than a cellphone taped to someone's wrist."

Another Canadian, Jeffrey Macesin, was ticketed in Quebec in 2015 for using an Apple Watch behind the wheel, CTV News reported at the time. He was fined $120 and given four "demerit points" on his license.

There does not appear to be any cases of Apple Watch users in the U.S. facing charges for distracted driving.

Do Not Disturb

In an effort to combat distracted driving, Apple unveiled a new Do Not Disturb While Driving feature in 2017, as part of iOS 11. The feature reportedly reduced behind-the-wheel phone usage by 8 percent in its first year.

Apple has taken heat for inducing accidents because of the iPhone, but so far, none of the suits have gained any real traction. For example, in 2017, a California court threw out a lawsuit by the father of a man killed in an accident, who blamed Apple for not, at the time, offering a feature that blocked functionality while the user was driving.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 41
    missiongreymissiongrey Posts: 204member
    Looks like some budgets needed a cash infusion. 
    lordjohnwhorfinwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 41
    Looks like some budgets needed a cash infusion. 
    Really? You have no problem with distracted drivers? I can usually spot a driver using a device from 100m away because of how badly they drive. Even pedestrians should have a little common sense when crossing/not crossing while on the phone.
    zroger73netmagerwesdasanman69jony0mac_dog
  • Reply 3 of 41
    She was probably trying to make Siri play her Spotify songs and control Google Maps.
  • Reply 4 of 41
    dedgeckodedgecko Posts: 19member
    Are we getting tickets for interacting with the Nav / HUD / radio these days as well?
    zroger73netmageStrangeDaysbloggerblogjbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 41
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,281member
    Let's take the Watch out of the equation.  Is it an offense not to 'move immediately' a light turns green in Canada?
    georgie01netmagelordjohnwhorfinwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 41
    adm1adm1 Posts: 806member
    I don't believe she should have been fined if she only "looked" at the screen, she could look at a screen held by a passenger, she could look at a TV screen in a shop window as she's passing - it's no different. Had she been sat tapping away on it, then sure, it's just like tapping on a phone which is illegal in most places (except the US it seems).

    Personally, I see much worse driving habits than mobile phone use. I followed a car home from work last week, it was swerving left and right, never indicating, late breaking, mounted the grass a few times. I assumed she was drunk and I was seconds away from reporting it when I spotted what was up... she was eating a mcdonalds. Juggling a large cup in one hand, stuffing fries into her mouth with the other. I assume her knees were doing the steering and god knows what she was changing gears with!
    zroger73wlymwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 41
    missiongreymissiongrey Posts: 204member
    Looks like some budgets needed a cash infusion. 
    Really? You have no problem with distracted drivers? I can usually spot a driver using a device from 100m away because of how badly they drive. Even pedestrians should have a little common sense when crossing/not crossing while on the phone.
    I believe you have inferred more from my post then meant.
    • I have a major irritation with distracted drivers and I do agree with you that may times you pass someone who is driving poorly you will see them on the phone. 
    • I also think there are many other distractions that a driver needs to contend with and that a bad driver is a bad driver. 
    • I fully agree with you regarding pedestrians. I have seen too many people walk into the street and nearly be hit because they were assuming cars say them and would stop. At a busy crosswalk I will walk into traffic but always be ready to move quickly if a car doesn't seem to be stopping. 
    • I also can agree with all these points and still believe that a $400 fine for looking at your watch while waiting at a light is a overly aggressive penalty. 

    netmagewlym
  • Reply 8 of 41
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,591member
    MacPro said:
    Let's take the Watch out of the equation.  Is it an offense not to 'move immediately' a light turns green in Canada?
    Nice misdirection attempt. 

    I think the law's intention is pretty clear: Discourage drivers from becoming distracted from the task of safely and responsibly operating thousand pound+ vehicles by instead trying to monitor/use handheld electronic devices that at minimum results in reduced traffic flow and at worst failure to notice pedestrians, bikers, safety hazards, braking vehicles and traffic control devices like pedestrian crossings, red lights and stop signs. 

    Why should looking at a notification on a watch while operating a motor vehicle be considered any different than looking at a cellphone while doing the same? You're correct, it isn't. Just like with cellphone use on the highway, it can wait. 

    When the driver didn't begin moving when the light changed she gave the officer evidence of being distracted from her primary task by a hand-held electronic device
    edited June 4 dasanman69jony0mac_dog
  • Reply 9 of 41
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,645member
    MacPro said:
    Let's take the Watch out of the equation.  Is it an offense not to 'move immediately' a light turns green in Canada?
    Should be everywhere.
    franklinjackconjony0
  • Reply 10 of 41
    macguimacgui Posts: 753member
    Looks like some budgets needed a cash infusion. 
    Who better to get it from than somebody Driving While Clueless.

    dedgecko said:
    Are we getting tickets for interacting with the Nav / HUD / radio these days as well?
    Some people in my city have. So far they haven't been Apple products so they don't make the news. Distracted driving is distracted driven, regardless of the activity causing it.

    MacPro said:
    Let's take the Watch out of the equation.  Is it an offense not to 'move immediately' a light turns green in Canada?
    Good question. It is in most if not all states in the US. Otherwise you could just sit right through a traffic light cycle because the energy wasn't right or the spirit didn't move you. Or you were 'busy' posting to Instagram. Because you're not the only one on the road. But if so, that would have been an additional violation, so she caught a break.
    jony0
  • Reply 11 of 41
    netmagenetmage Posts: 181member
    At some point though glancing at the Apple Watch is less distracting than having a passenger.
  • Reply 12 of 41
    georgie01georgie01 Posts: 143member
    gatorguy said:

    I think the law's intention is pretty clear: Discourage drivers from becoming distracted from the task of safely and responsibly operating thousand pound+ vehicles by instead trying to monitor/use handheld electronic devices that at minimum results in reduced traffic flow and at worst failure to notice pedestrians, bikers, safety hazards, braking vehicles and traffic control devices like pedestrian crossings, red lights and stop signs. 

    Why should looking at a notification on a watch while operating a motor vehicle be considered any different than looking at a cellphone while doing the same? You're correct, it isn't. Just like with cellphone use on the highway, it can wait. 

    When the driver didn't begin moving when the light changed she gave the officer evidence of being distracted from her primary task by a hand-held electronic device
    On one hand your basic idea is correct, but on the other hand it is naive. How about the countless other times someone is at a light and doesn’t go when the light is green and isn’t using a device? If you drive you’ve undoubtedly done that yourself. Why is it suddenly worthy of a $400 fine just because the distraction is a smart watch or phone rather than the stain you just noticed on your shirt?

    The concern over distracted driving is legtitimate but the fixation on devices is stupid. Looking in the rear view mirror, or adjusting the air conditioning, or adjusting the radio, or having a conversation with a passenger, are all things which can distract in the exact same way as a device.

    The real problem is that people use their devices irresponsibly.
    StrangeDayschristophbfirelock
  • Reply 13 of 41
    JFC_PAJFC_PA Posts: 172member
    My 4Runner display is much more distracting than my watch. Canada gonna bust me when I check the map while I’m stopped?

    i guess they really need the money. 
    edited June 4
  • Reply 14 of 41
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,400member
    Good comments by many of you. Many of us get traffic violation due to questionable behavior on roads. At the end, police want you pay attention to be safe for you and importantly for others. With changing tech, there should be practical but consistent laws for distracted drivers,.
  • Reply 15 of 41
    kruegdudekruegdude Posts: 128member
    Looks like some budgets needed a cash infusion. 
    Really? You have no problem with distracted drivers? I can usually spot a driver using a device from 100m away because of how badly they drive. Even pedestrians should have a little common sense when crossing/not crossing while on the phone.
    She was stopped, as in not moving. How would you spot this one?
    leehamm
  • Reply 16 of 41
    kruegdudekruegdude Posts: 128member

    gatorguy said:
    MacPro said:
    Let's take the Watch out of the equation.  Is it an offense not to 'move immediately' a light turns green in Canada?
    Nice misdirection attempt. 

    I think the law's intention is pretty clear: Discourage drivers from becoming distracted from the task of safely and responsibly operating thousand pound+ vehicles by instead trying to monitor/use handheld electronic devices that at minimum results in reduced traffic flow and at worst failure to notice pedestrians, bikers, safety hazards, braking vehicles and traffic control devices like pedestrian crossings, red lights and stop signs. 

    Why should looking at a notification on a watch while operating a motor vehicle be considered any different than looking at a cellphone while doing the same? You're correct, it isn't. Just like with cellphone use on the highway, it can wait. 

    When the driver didn't begin moving when the light changed she gave the officer evidence of being distracted from her primary task by a hand-held electronic device
    What is the difference between being distracted by a hand held device and just being distracted, like maybe enjoying the view, or people watching?
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 17 of 41
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 4,760member
    gatorguy said:
    MacPro said:
    Let's take the Watch out of the equation.  Is it an offense not to 'move immediately' a light turns green in Canada?
    Nice misdirection attempt. 

    I think the law's intention is pretty clear: Discourage drivers from becoming distracted from the task of safely and responsibly operating thousand pound+ vehicles by instead trying to monitor/use handheld electronic devices that at minimum results in reduced traffic flow and at worst failure to notice pedestrians, bikers, safety hazards, braking vehicles and traffic control devices like pedestrian crossings, red lights and stop signs. 

    Why should looking at a notification on a watch while operating a motor vehicle be considered any different than looking at a cellphone while doing the same? You're correct, it isn't. Just like with cellphone use on the highway, it can wait. 

    When the driver didn't begin moving when the light changed she gave the officer evidence of being distracted from her primary task by a hand-held electronic device
    It’s not misdirection and telling that you claim it is. This is a valid discussion. If your in-dash GPS issues a notification, say about traffic conditions ahead, a rerouting suggestion, or a Waze ad (which I’ve received on the AppRadio head unit platform) would reading or dismissing that also qualify as distracted driving? Neither it nor the watch are hand-held. What about talking to a person and not accelerating immediately. What is the litmus test? Pixels? 

    It seems their current law (driving "while holding or using a handheld wireless communication device”) doesn’t count a watch nor an in-dash system. 
    edited June 4 christophb
  • Reply 18 of 41
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,328member
    The offense here should have stuck to the fact that the driver was distracted and not try to tailor the "why" behind the offense to fit a technology. Who cares if the source of distraction is a "wireless communication device," an "escaped hamster," "dropped cigarette," or a "drippy burrito." The original digital watches from the 1970s were LED devices that required two hands to operate. You had to raise your wrist to see the watch face and then press a button on the watch to turn on the LED to see the time or date displayed. In the above scenario the law enforcement officer would have observed the "glow of an electronic device" with the LED watch and it was by no means a wireless communication device.

    This is simply a case where the law enforcement officer has been granted complete discretion whether to charge a driver with distracted driving based on his/her observations and judgement. End of story. The justice spewing pseudoscience and naive technobabble about taping a cellphone to a wrist is total BS and a pathetic attempt at obscuring the true nature of the law and its enforcement mechanisms. It has nothing at all to do with any technology or science or the Apple Watch. It's 100% a judgement call that's been granted to the law enforcement officer by the law in force. The assumption here is that the law enforcement officer is provided guidance ahead of time before being entrusted to make these calls to the best of their ability and without prejudice. I have no problem with this law at all.  Just leave the technology BS out of it. 
    roundaboutnow
  • Reply 19 of 41
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,591member
    gatorguy said:
    MacPro said:
    Let's take the Watch out of the equation.  Is it an offense not to 'move immediately' a light turns green in Canada?
    Nice misdirection attempt. 

    I think the law's intention is pretty clear: Discourage drivers from becoming distracted from the task of safely and responsibly operating thousand pound+ vehicles by instead trying to monitor/use handheld electronic devices that at minimum results in reduced traffic flow and at worst failure to notice pedestrians, bikers, safety hazards, braking vehicles and traffic control devices like pedestrian crossings, red lights and stop signs. 

    Why should looking at a notification on a watch while operating a motor vehicle be considered any different than looking at a cellphone while doing the same? You're correct, it isn't. Just like with cellphone use on the highway, it can wait. 

    When the driver didn't begin moving when the light changed she gave the officer evidence of being distracted from her primary task by a hand-held electronic device
    It’s not misdirection and telling that you claim it is. This is a valid discussion. If your in-dash GPS issues a notification, say about traffic conditions ahead, a rerouting suggestion, or a Waze ad (which I’ve received on the AppRadio head unit platform) would reading or dismissing that also qualify as distracted driving? Neither it nor the watch are hand-held. What about talking to a person and not accelerating immediately. What is the litmus test? Pixels?
    Manually operating your gps system would also be a violation in many districts. Yes there will be distracted drivers even without electronic devices, and yes I've seen them for myself in my many years of driving. I've not ever seen this level of distracted driving until very recent years, and it came along in tandem with our smartphone use. I'm sure you yourself have watched a car slow down for some distance during daytime travel, lagging behind the traffic flow, perhaps slowly moving towards either the centerline or shoulder, then speeding up only to return to the slow drive within a few minutes. You can usually guess as to the cause can't you?

    I don't know what percentage of distracted driving can be attributed to use of an electronic device but I suspect it's a high percentage. 
    edited June 4 jony0
  • Reply 20 of 41
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,326member
    kruegdude said:
    gatorguy said:
    MacPro said:
    Let's take the Watch out of the equation.  Is it an offense not to 'move immediately' a light turns green in Canada?
    Nice misdirection attempt. 

    I think the law's intention is pretty clear: Discourage drivers from becoming distracted from the task of safely and responsibly operating thousand pound+ vehicles by instead trying to monitor/use handheld electronic devices that at minimum results in reduced traffic flow and at worst failure to notice pedestrians, bikers, safety hazards, braking vehicles and traffic control devices like pedestrian crossings, red lights and stop signs. 

    Why should looking at a notification on a watch while operating a motor vehicle be considered any different than looking at a cellphone while doing the same? You're correct, it isn't. Just like with cellphone use on the highway, it can wait. 

    When the driver didn't begin moving when the light changed she gave the officer evidence of being distracted from her primary task by a hand-held electronic device
    What is the difference between being distracted by a hand held device and just being distracted, like maybe enjoying the view, or people watching?
    The difference is what is causing the distraction, but the core of your statement has distracted as reasons for unsafe driving. If this was an issue of just "I saw the glow of an electronic device on her wrist so I pulled her over and gave her a ticket," then it would be poor reasoning since smartwatches and phones can light up without the user active using them, but when combined with the officer saying she was looking at her watch not noticing that the light had turned green then it becomes an issue. It doesn't matter if she was daydreaming about Michelle Wolf taking over on Roseanne, if she's distracted, then she's distracted. Full stop.
    jony0
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