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UK drivers warned off using Apple Watch behind the wheel

Apple Watch is off to a rather shaky start, as some folks (like us) feel it isn't as smart looking or svelte as we were expecting, and others don't believe it has enough functionality (opens in new tab), and doesn't do anything different from existing smartwatches.

And now the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) is putting the boot in – on all smartwatches, mind, although the organisation's press release highlights Apple's – and the risks of using such a gadget while driving.

Smartphones are already a danger in terms of the temptation for drivers to use them while on the road, and IAM believes that the constant alerts the Apple Watch (which it amusingly calls the iWatch in places in its press release – was this statement prepared pre-launch, perchance?) sends will prove far more of a distraction.

IAM cites a study on mobile phone usage between 2006 and 2010 which found that handset-related distraction was a factor in 1,960 road traffic accidents which ended in injury to one (or more) parties. It then suggests: "Having a wristwatch linked to users' mobile phone only suggests a higher proportion of drivers' performance will be significantly impaired."

Related: Is Apple Watch late to the party? (opens in new tab)

The organisation also notes that the Apple Watch requires two hands to operate, which will "impact speed, lane position and time spent looking at the road".

Neil Greig, IAM Director of Policy and Research, commented: "An iWatch [we think you mean Apple Watch, Neil – editor] has the potential to be just as distracting as any other smartphone device. Indeed more so if you have to take your hand off the wheel and your eyes off the road to interact with it."

"Enforcement will be difficult for the police, but powers exist to seize and interrogate devices in the event of a serious crash. The very device that distracted you also has the power to convict you."

Read more: The iPhone 6 and Apple Watch launch: The broad impact on the future (opens in new tab)

Using an Apple Watch while you're driving will leave you open to the same penalty as using a smartphone, namely three points and a £100 fine, the Department for Transport has said. However, if convicted of death by dangerous driving due to using your phone/watch, the stakes obviously increase to two years in prison.

Darran has over 25 years of experience in digital and magazine publishing as a writer and editor. He's also an author, having co-written a novel published by Little, Brown (Hachette UK). He currently writes news, features and buying guides for TechRadar, and occasionally other Future websites such as T3 or Creative Bloq and he's a copy editor for TechRadar Pro. Darrran has written for a large number of tech and gaming websites/magazines in the past, including Web User and ComputerActive. He has also worked at IDG Media, having been the Editor of PC Games Solutions and the Deputy Editor of PC Home.