Smartwatches are being released en-masse after Apple unveiled their latest smartwatch product, the Apple Watch. While it is true that the watch delivers on its promise to make some tasks easier and more manageable, how will the watch impact distracted driving accidents in the state?
Studies in the past have already shown that talking with someone on a hands-free device is more distracting than having a conversation with someone who is in the car – and because the Apple Watch and other smartwatches are “hands-free,” they may spell disaster on Missouri streets and highways.
What the Law Says
Unfortunately, Missouri legislature has not yet caught up with new technology, specifically smartwatches. There is no law regarding smartwatch use while operating a vehicle. In fact, on a national scale, there are no distracted driving laws addressing smartwatches nor does it appear that any are in the process of being drafted. According to the National Safety Council, technology is moving faster than the law can keep up with, which means there may be numerous accidents before a law regarding smartwatch use is ever created.
Even when laws do catch up, enforcing those laws will be challenging – just as it has been with texting and talking on cell phones. In some states, the fine for cell phone use is so minimal that it does not deter individuals from still using their phones while driving.
A Study Conducted in the UK
In the United Kingdom, a study was conducted regarding smartwatches and driving. This experiment noted that a driver will take an average of 2.52 seconds to read or react to a smartwatch notification. The drivers in the experiment veered in and out of their lane four times while operating their smartwatch and vehicle at the same time.
Proving Distracted Driving with Smartwatch Use
Proving a driver was distracted is already complicated, but with a smartwatch it may become more complicated. While drivers may not be criminally liable for the accident after using their cell phone or smartwatch, they can still be held liable in civil court. The plaintiff will need to prove the driver was distracted by:
- Witness Statements – If bystanders or passengers noted that the driver was using their cell phone or smartwatch device at the time of the accident, you may have a distracted driving case.
- Driver Admissions – Sometimes a driver may admit to using their smartwatch while operating a vehicle. In this instance, a plaintiff should get that statement on video or in writing.
- Cell Phone Records – Smartwatches still require a satellite connection and data; therefore, the plaintiff’s attorney can petition for cell or data records for that smartwatch to prove it was in use at the time of the accident.
Speak With a Distracted Driving Advocate – Contact Horn Law
At Horn Law, we feel distracted driving is one of the most negligent practices a person can conduct behind the wheel. If you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted driver, let our attorneys help you exercise your right to compensation under the law. Contact us online or call 816-795-7500 to schedule a consultation.