News Article
Is Using a Smart Watch while Driving Legal in Arizona?
Since the introduction of SmartWatches in 2015, the question has been pondered as to whether the use of them is legal. While Arizona does not have a statewide texting-while-driving ban, in Phoenix, Flagstaff and Tucson drivers have been banned from using their phones while driving. You may initially think that a SmartWatch may qualify as a "hands-free device", it is in fact, the exact opposite. In order to use a SmartWatch or to even view the screen, you would have to take at least one hand off the wheel. Also, in order to perform a function on a Smart Watch, it would require two hands.
The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) is warning consumers and drivers alike that Smart Watches are potentially more distracting than SmartPhones and other mobile devices. While those who do not wish to be distracted by a mobile phone can put the device away and out of sight, a SmartWatch is worn at all times.
According to a study conducted by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) Smart Watches are actually more dangerous to use than a SmartPhone. "The TRL found that a driver reading a text on a SmartWatch takes an average of 2.52 seconds to react to an unexpected event. That compares with 1.85 seconds for a driver using a SmartPhone and 0.9 seconds for a driver talking to someone else in the car."
With new technologies come new laws. Unfortunately, these laws often take years to go into effect. While most states do not currently have laws prohibiting the use of SmartWatches while driving, they do have laws regarding distracted driving. There are states that are attempting to change current distracted driving statutes to cover SmartWatches and other electronic wearable devices. Currently, Arizona is not one of them.
If new laws are put into place regarding wearable technology, the question remains of how effectively they can be enforced. It is not illegal to check the time on your watch, but how are the authorities to determine the difference between checking the time and performing a function on a wearable device?
In conclusion, drivers are urged to remove their SmartWatches or turn their notifications off while they are driving. The temptation to check a message may result in a serious collision. If you have been involved in an accident as a result of a distracted driver in Arizona, contact our experienced attorneys at Grabb & Durando. Call us at (520) 222.2222