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.
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.