Apple Watch owner fined $120 for changing songs while driving

Posted:
in Apple Watch edited June 2015
An Apple Watch owner in Quebec was recently fined $120 for operating his wrist-worn gadget while driving, sparking debate as to whether traffic law should consider smartwatches handheld devices, and thus prohibit their use, or Bluetooth accessories.




Apple Watch user Jeffrey Macesin was pulled over by the Surete du Quebec and slapped with a $120 ticket and four license points for operating his new smartwatch while in the driver's seat, reports CTV Montreal.

Macesin claims he was using Watch's built-in Music app to remotely change songs on a linked iPhone that was piping audio into his car stereo via an auxiliary cable.

The ticket cited Section 439.1 of the Quebec Highway Safety Code, which reads, "No person may, while driving a road vehicle, use a hand-held device that includes a telephone function." Use of Bluetooth accessories, like headsets and hands-free equipment, is allowed. A literal interpretation could find Macesin not technically in violation of the statute, as the "handheld device" in this equation -- Macesin's iPhone -- was stowed in a bag and therefore unreachable.

"It's not so much handheld. It's a watch. You know, it's on my wrist. That's where it gets controversial," Macesin said. "It's like, 'Is it? Is it not?' but I think this needs to be talked about."

Some believe an incident like Macesin's was bound happen given increasingly aggressive laws designed to save lives by prohibiting distracted driving. Many governments have these laws in place, but as slow-moving policy is often unable to keep pace with technological advances, devices like smartwatches go unmentioned.

It is perhaps more interesting to ask if advanced smartwatches like Apple Watch, which are capable of mirroring iPhone functions like voice and text communication, also constitute a distraction to drivers. In such cases, and with regard to the current state of policymaking, it is unclear whether to enforce the spirit or the letter of the law.

Macesin plans to contest the ticket and could enlist legal counsel over the matter.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 124
    applesauce007applesauce007 Posts: 1,682member
    He could have used SIRI or better yet SIRI CarPlay.

    When you are driving a car, SIRI should be used for everything unless you are parked.
  • Reply 2 of 124
    [quote name="AppleInsider" url="/t/186455/apple-watch-owner-fined-120-for-changing-songs-while-driving#post_2727908"]
    Some believe an incident like Macesin's was bound happen given increasingly aggressive laws designed to [S]save lives by prohibiting distracted driving[/S] replenish government coffers.

    This seems like common sense that it shouldn't have been an issue.
  • Reply 3 of 124
    tenlytenly Posts: 710member
    That's not true. While stopped at a red light, it's plenty safe to go ahead and clear some notifications.

    What constitutes *USE* of the watch? Do you have to touch the watch with the opposite hand or does glancing at an incoming notification count as use? The law needs to have language that clearly defines these terms. Activating Siri requires a long press of the crown. That can easily be done without taking your eyes off the road. Would that constitute illegal use?

    Most of the people that comment on this thread probably don't even have one yet, but they'll be convinced that they know what's distracting and what's not. Most of them will be wrong. Replying to a text on the watch is not nearly as distracting as doing so from a phone. One large reply button, followed by a choice of 2-3 predefined answers or a microphone button and then a dictated message is all it takes to reply to a message. For me, it's less distracting to send a quick reply from the watch than it is to adjust the HVAC, tha built-in radio or taking a sip from my coffe.

    I don't like the double-standard in the wording of these laws. If they are going to explicitly outlaw the use of handheld devices because they are a distraction tothe driver, then do it! But they don't ban handheld devices - they ban handheld ELECTRONIC devices! So putting on your lipstick or your makeup or even fumbling with a paper map is all completely legal...
  • Reply 4 of 124
    Well, it might not be handheld, but it's even more distract you than a smartphone. If the law intention is to product people from distraction, then it make sense.

    I could change music with physical buttons in Pebble while driving without any distraction because I can feel which button do what without having to look at. It's the same as pushing a button on steering wheel. But with Apple Watch, I have to actually peek and see and then tap to change song. It takes 2-3 seconds of your vision completely off the road, which more than enough to send your car to crash. It nearly happen to me once.

    While stopping at red light though, it's different case. I think it can be use safely.

    The law should be written clearly now that Smartwatch becoming mainstream. It should protect drivers while making sense of using it for good.
  • Reply 5 of 124
    krawallkrawall Posts: 159member
    Quote:
    The ticket cited Section 439.1 of the Quebec Highway Safety Code, which reads, "No person may, while driving a road vehicle, use a hand-held device that includes a telephone function." Use of Bluetooth accessories, like headsets and hands-free equipment, is allowed. 

     

    I think it's clear to all who can read: "... use a handheld device that includes a telephone function". It's not handheld and it doesn't include a telephone function.

  • Reply 6 of 124
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Krawall View Post

     

     

    I think it's clear to all who can read: "... use a handheld device that includes a telephone function". It's not handheld and it doesn't include a telephone function.


    It's not handheld but it does include a telephone function.

     

    + This guy said the phone was plugged in (and in his bag - weird), he should have used Siri; 'Hey Siri, next track.'

  • Reply 7 of 124

    Who can honestly see the face of their Watch and be holding the steering wheel with that same hand properly and safely? Because you have to take your other hand of the steering wheel to touch the watch.*  In this way the watch is less safe than the iPhone because the Watch is a two handed device and iPhone can be used one handed. 

     

    *Unless, you raise your wrist and say, 'Hey Siri.'  

     

    Best to power your iPhone in the car and use Hey Siri on the phone.

  • Reply 8 of 124
    habihabi Posts: 317member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Krawall View Post

     

     

    I think it's clear to all who can read: "... use a handheld device that includes a telephone function". It's not handheld and it doesn't include a telephone function.




    Well its sometimes tricky for them to read the law. <img class=" src="http://forums-files.appleinsider.com/images/smilies//lol.gif" /> I cant see this going down any other way than annulment of the ticket  if he pursues his rights...

  • Reply 9 of 124
    arlorarlor Posts: 528member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by tenly View Post



    Most of the people that comment on this thread probably don't even have one yet, but they'll be convinced that they know what's distracting and what's not. Most of them will be wrong. Replying to a text on the watch is not nearly as distracting as doing so from a phone. One large reply button, followed by a choice of 2-3 predefined answers or a microphone button and then a dictated message is all it takes to reply to a message. For me, it's less distracting to send a quick reply from the watch than it is to adjust the HVAC, tha built-in radio or taking a sip from my coffee.

     

    On the one hand, this is true: most commenters (including me) don't have one. On the other hand, people in general show remarkably poor judgment about what's likely to distract them while driving.

  • Reply 10 of 124
    We have sued Apple regarding distracted driving and the Apple Watch. Why?

    See ddlawsuit.com

    Eyes on the watch means no eyes on the road. In 2013, 3,100 deaths and 424,000 injuries were caused by distracted driving. That is no joke.

    The watch is going to be a major distraction. The icons are tiny and the third party apps are slow. That means even more time with eyes off the road. Two seconds with eyes of the road can end your life or the lives of others. The road is invisible (repeat: invisible!!!) when you look at the watch. And many people get sucked into looking at the screen and will forget that they are driving. That's why so many people are killed. They literally forget they are driving. See first video on our website if you don't believe it. Those are real dashcam videos.

    Plus, incredibly, the watch includes turn-by-turn directions on the tiny screen. Totally irresponsible of Apple to do that!

    Try this. Look straight ahead, now look at your watch for two seconds. Can you still see ahead? No you cannot. It's like wearing a blindfold.

    Check the videos on our website. If you do nothing else, check the first video on our home page. It's very brief. People just don't appreciate the seriousness of the problem.

    Apple has been irresponsible. It must educate people about why it's so dangerous to use the watch when driving and ask them please not to do it.

    Coalition Against Distracted Driving

    ddlawsuit.com
  • Reply 11 of 124
    scottjdscottjd Posts: 64member
    I'll try this again since the post didn't take the first time.

    The watch does not work without the phone expect for basic time functions, so it's a blutooth accessory.

    It's not "handheld", but that's just picking on words. Then again that's what lawyers do all the time.

    My eyes travel less from my main point of driving view when using directions to see my next turn on my wrist while on the steering wheel between 10 and 2 o'clock, the. Say if I had to look down and over to the middle of my dash to see the map in my 7 inch GPS screen. This also means my eyes return to the road faster after tilting my wrist and looking at the watch.

    To change to the next track in my car I have no physical buttons as previously mentioned to reach over and forward a track. It's phone connected to stereo with blutooth. And to forward a track I again need to look down and over to the center to see the button to push on my screen. Faster and easier on the watch.

    As for hey Siri on the phone, well voice commands with Siri sucks with the built in car mic that the phone uses when connected to the car stereo over blutooth. Just not an option. But for me to tilt my watch and say text message "hey Siri, text bla bla, I'm running late" works better then the built in mic. But even I would consider this texting and driving and don't agree with it.

    In this case about texting I'm just playing devils advocate, compared to the kid that has one hand on the steering well and is replying to a text message with the phone in his other hand keeping it out of sight under the windshield and out of you from any cops being able to see him reply to this text while he constantly looks down at the phone to make sure he's not typing it wrong.

    You can't type a text reply on the watch, only preset responses or It's voice dictation. Even preset quick responses are also available without the watch on my car stereo, after my car stereo politely reads the text message to me. And they put this in the stereo because they thought it was safer then preset responses on a phone. Not really, eyes again further away, longer return and the stereo promotes texting while driving since it reads it to me and has canned responses that I can touch on the screen.

    What if I was wearing a normal watch and the alarm when off reminding me to take meds, I reached over with one hand still on the wheel and the other to push a button to stop the alarm. Is that also a violation? Same action was required to push one button. Is my insulin pump now a handle held device when it beeps to tell me I may have a problem with its delivery of insulin. So pulling this off my hip to glance at a message on the pump is also illegal?
    Or is this the same as looking at my car stereo to see what station I'm on and then scan for another station?

    Why is the car stereo further away from line of site to the road, but the onboard computer screen is between the Tactometer and speedometer to tell me something is wrong like, tire pressure, over heating, my safety cameras no longer can see the road because of heavy rain or direct sun.
    Now that's funny, I have to look further away to read a alarm message on the car telling me that the safety cameras are not working, then if I was to flip my wrist and see a message glance on the watch. In fact, even looking at my speed or adjusting my Cruise control takes my eyes further off the road then the watch would to change music track.

    Think about how many other things you look at, turn, push or slide for buttons and features on the car alone and how much further your eyes are off the road and that means it takes longer for your eyes to return to the road, in compared to looking at the watch that is practically in the line of site while your eyes are still on the road. Almost like on windshield displays of newer fancy cars from today. and mine is a 2013, not that old at all.

    And before anyone asks, yes I've had the watch for 4 weeks now.
  • Reply 12 of 124
    irnchrizirnchriz Posts: 1,605member
    Was he moving or stopped at the time? I have tried to use the watch when driving and it's not easy to do at speed. That being the case, if he were in motion he was probably swerving a bit and that's why the cop spotted him. If he was stopped then the cop was just being a dick.

    Plus, the watch is a Bluetooth accessory so unless he was driving erratically what was his problem?
  • Reply 13 of 124
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,939member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    "It's not so much handheld. It's a watch. You know, it's on my wrist. That's where it gets controversial," Macesin said. "It's like, 'Is it? Is it not?' but I think this needs to be talked about."

     



    No it is not.  This is the problem with adults nowadays.  They find every excuse to come up with that puts them in the right when it's obvious it is wrong.  They just don't fess-up and admit it.



    This is a classic example of "You know it when you see it."



    Stop fiddling with your gadgets in the car.  Period.  The moment you take your eyes off the road to look wherever on your person or phone, you endanger others.



    Every day I ride my motorcycle to the office (26-miles one way) I'm always having to veer out of the way because some jackass driver is completely engrossed in their phone that they don't realize they have just drifted into my lane, and they get angry with me because I honk my horn, or give them the finger for almost hitting me.  



    Now we're gonna have idiots doing the same thing with their watches and the problem will be is that it will not be as obvious as using a phone.  Good luck proving that when the driver hits and kills someone because they figured that simple watch text was more important than what is in front of them.

  • Reply 14 of 124
    We have sued Apple regarding distracted driving and the Apple Watch.

    See ddlawsuit.com

    Eyes on the watch means no eyes on the road. In 2013, 3,100 deaths and 424,000 injuries were caused by distracted driving. That is no joke.

    The watch is going to be a major distraction. The icons are tiny and third party apps are slow. That means even more time with eyes off the road. Two seconds with eyes of the road can end your life or the lives of others. The road is invisible (repeat: invisible!!!) when you look at the watch. And many people get sucked into looking at the screen and will forget that they are driving. That's why so many people are killed. They literally forget they are driving. See first video on our website if you don't believe it. Those are real dashcam videos.

    Try this. Look straight ahead, now look at your watch for two seconds. Can you still see ahead? No you cannot. It's like wearing a blindfold.

    Check the videos on our website. If you do nothing else, check the first video on our home page. It's very brief. People just don't appreciate the seriousness of the problem.

    Apple has been irresponsible. It must educate people about why it's so dangerous to use the watch when driving and ask them please not to do it.

    Coalition Against Distracted Driving
  • Reply 15 of 124
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by tenly View Post



    That's not true. While stopped at a red light, it's plenty safe to go ahead and clear some notifications.

    Common sense would agree with you - the police in the UK would not. I was stopped in a line of traffic behind an unmarked police car, handbrake on but engine still running. I took teh chance to remove a wristband from my wrist and looked down while I done it - the cop in front leapt out waving his badge as he ran to my door hoping to find a mobile phone in my hand. He trotted away sheepishly when he saw the wristband. It was no less distracting than a mobile phone would have been in that instance but the law is stupid like that.

     

    The adverts/critics here say talking on your phone is distracting, yet talking to passengers or talking on a handsfree isn't?! crazy.

  • Reply 16 of 124
    scottjdscottjd Posts: 64member
    <span style="line-height:1.4em;">Watch is a two handed device and iPhone can be used one handed. </span>

    I'm not sure I can agree with the statement of the watch being a two handed device from my experience.

    Another point I find funny is I wonder how many people replying to this has even worn a watch before they started becoming smart watches.
    Their has to be two or three generations of people that never bought a watch because they grew up with a clock on the cell phone.
    I know I still had a watch despite my pager showing time, and then my cell phone having a clock also.

    "Pager, what's a pager?????"
  • Reply 17 of 124
    arlorarlor Posts: 528member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by scottjd View Post



    "Pager, what's a pager?????"

     

    Good question. The doctor I needed to reach for some advice on complications after a surgery couldn't be reached with his so-called "pager." The dispatch tried three times before they gave up and called his cell. 

  • Reply 18 of 124
    scottjdscottjd Posts: 64member
    sflocal wrote: »

    This is the problem with adults nowadays.  They find every excuse to come up with that puts them in the right when it's obvious it is wrong.  They just don't fess-up and admit it.
    Hmm, to bad people can't get paid to come up with excuses and criticize wordings in a law, oh wait. In the US are they called lawyers ;)
  • Reply 19 of 124
    scottjdscottjd Posts: 64member
    arlor wrote: »
    Good question. The doctor I needed to reach for some advice on complications after a surgery couldn't be reached with his so-called "pager." The dispatch tried three times before they gave up and called his cell. 
    That's because all the pager towers have been converted over to being a cell town ;)
  • Reply 20 of 124
    jkichlinejkichline Posts: 1,363member

    Then we need to also outlaw billboards.  If we are supposed to keep our eyes on the road, then why the hell are their giant signs not on the road that require your attention to read? Or what about trying to change the freaking radio in newer cars? Or screaming children? Maybe women in short skirts should not be permitted to walk near roadways.  Seriously... learn to drive. If you can't drive, then you shouldn't.

     

    I think this law is just overstepping because some people can function relatively safe while checking a text message. I know when it's not safe and I put the phone down. I'm tired of this lousy police state we are in where the government needs to protect us from ourselves. Really? Give me a break.

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