Driver fined for using Apple Watch while driving

Smartwatches were designed to actually pry us away from our smartphones by only bringing to our attention very critical notifications, and even then only for a short while. At least that's the theory. And that theory will be one that still needs to be tested by the law, which has grown rather indecisive when it came to the latest breed of smart devices in the market. That is something that a driver from Pincourt, Quebec found out the hard way when he was fined with a $120 ticket for driving with an Apple Watch.

The incident looked straightforward enough. The driver, a certain Jeffrey Macesin, was asked to pull over by the Surete du Quebec, the province's police. Macesin was puzzled since he was not aware he was breaking any law. The cop, however, begs to differ. He cited Section 439.1 of the Quebec Highway Safety Code which prohibits the use of any handheld device with telephony functions. Macesin's iPhone was actually inside a bag, charging, while connected to the car's radio. Macesin, on the other hand, was caught changing songs using his Apple Watch while keeping his hand on the steering wheel.

This is, so far, the first known traffic violation case involving a smartwatch, much less a very new Apple Watch. It does bring to light the same question that Google Glass faced a few years back. What constitutes a handheld device under traffic laws, and does a smartwatch, which you technically don't hold in your hand, count?

It was only a matter of time before such incidents become common headlines, at least in the tech industry, especially with the rise of smartwatches. These wearable devices are, in theory, supposed to help minimize distraction. Their voice-centric controls emphasize their ability to be operated with nary a touch on the display. Perhaps Macesin should have used that instead, but voice control isn't yet completely reliable in all instances.

The law does need a bit of catching up to do. It took a while before even some could lay down a decision regarding Google Glass. With the increasing number of autonomous vehicles, the advent of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, law makers and enforcers better start the discussions before technology gets out of hand. Pun intended.

SOURCE: CTV Montreal