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Smartwatches worse than smartphones for distracting drivers

The internet population was surprised by Huffington Post blogger and car safety company SafeWitness CEO Paul Singh, when he said last week that Apple Watch must be banned for drivers.

Singh’s statement, which was published on Huffington Post, was based on a recent study by UK’s Transport Research Laboratory, which shows that smartwatches tend to distract drivers more than smartphones.

Although it's easy to see why a device which shows incoming messages or calls and it attached to the users wrist could be an added reason for drivers to be distracted, why he specifically singled out the Apple Watch to be banned is not clear.

TRL was quick to point out that what it did was not a full-scale study, adding that using an Apple Watch was not included in the tests.

The study in question actually revealed that drivers take longer to react to an emergency situation after looking at a message on a smartwatch - at an average of 2.52 seconds - versus when using a handheld smartphone - which averages at 1.85 seconds.

In the tests, the smartwatch use involved reading a message from the screen. This may not sound particularly hard but, as the adoption of smartwatches is yet to become mainstream, it's probably safe to assume that the majority of participants were unfamiliar with the devices.

With the smartwatch trend still at a relatively early stage, added functionality such as voice controls that would increase ease of use and improve safety for drivers is not yet available - that is not limited to Apple Watch alone.