Most people understand the danger of texting or interacting with a smartphone while driving. Unfortunately, many otherwise savvy drivers fail to realize another significant danger: smartwatches. Smartwatches can pose distractions very similar to smartphones. In fact, in some cases, smartwatches can create even larger distractions than smartphones.
The Smartwatch DistractionSavvy drivers know to keep their cell phones in the back seat or otherwise out of reach while they are driving. Unfortunately, most people wear smartwatches on their wrists, and most individuals don’t take the time to take off their watches before they get behind the wheel. Smartwatches serve a wide range of purposes, from counting steps and tracking heart rate to informing the wearer of phone notifications. Unfortunately, those purposes bring with them plenty of potential distractions, many of which pose more serious dangers than simply checking a smartphone. Drivers who check smartwatches need an average of 2.52 seconds to react to occurrences outside of the car, while drivers checking smartphones need approximately 1.85 seconds. This increased reaction time can make it difficult for drivers to avoid distractions while wearing and using smartwatches.
- Checking the watch: Checking a watch poses the same distractions as checking a phone, and as mentioned above, watches can potentially pose even more of a distraction. To check a watch, a driver must remove his or her hand from the wheel or look down awkwardly. Not only that, if the driver has on long sleeves, he or she may need to use the other hand to move back the sleeve. Simply looking down at the watch may pose more of a danger than checking a phone—especially if the driver needs to press buttons or perform complex maneuvers to clear notifications, all while maintaining focus on the road.
- Potential notifications: Like phones, many smartwatches offer a range of notifications. In fact, you may get as many notifications on your watch as you get on your phone. Turning off smartwatch notifications may require completely different settings than you need to turn off your phone notifications. In some cases, your watch may inform you of application updates with the same alert that your phone uses for text messages or incoming calls, making it difficult for drivers to know exactly of what their watch is alerting them.
- Smaller screens: Smartphones provide large screens that allow viewers to take in most of a message at once. Smartwatches, on the other hand, typically have smaller screens, so users must wait for information to scroll across the screen to read everything. More time needed to absorb information means more time with your eyes off the road, which can present serious dangers for drivers.