Do Smartwatches Contribute to Distracted Driving?

There’s no doubt that wearable technology like smartwatches makes you more productive and tuned in. However, it comes to its associated risks, specifically creating dangerous distractions to drivers.

With distracted driving claiming 3,142 lives in 2019, it’s a leading cause of accidents. And smartwatches do have a fair contribution in triggering these accidents.

What Are Smartwatches?

Smartwatches are a wearable smart device that connects to a Smartphone and worn on the wrist. They provide wireless access to various Smartphone applications like calendars, email messages, texts, and social media content.

How Common Is Wearable Technology?


Wearable technology has grown to be quite common amongst the masses. According to eMarketer, 21% of the US population will use wearable devices at least once a month by the end of 2021.

It’s because they notify the user of incoming calls, texts, and email messages and support various apps. For example, apps that record heart rate and other important body signs.

What Is the Biggest Danger of Wearing Smartwatches?

No doubt, the most significant danger is the distraction it causes, especially while driving.

They offer the same distractions that a Smartphone offers. And drivers are tempted to engage with the device whenever they receive notifications.

Drivers generally see no harm in glancing at the watch on their wrist instead of holding the phone to the ear.

And this is where the problem stands.

What Is Distracted Driving?

distracted driving

Distracted driving constitutes any action that takes the driver’s attention off driving for even a moment. It can be anything like:

  • Answering the phone
  • Glancing at smartwatches
  • Applying makeup
  • Adjusting the radio
  • Having intense conversations with passengers

It’s when drivers divert their attention to something else that their ability to recognize and react appropriately to roadway dangers gets affected. It can, in turn, lead to a dangerous and perhaps life-changing situation.

Which Are the Most Distracting Smartwatch Functions?

distracted driving

A study was conducted to examine the communication types through smartphones and mobile phones. It specifically focused on the impact of text and voice messages on the driver’s focus and reaction time.

Drivers were subjected to four notification delivery scenarios where they received alerts through a smartwatch, mobile phone, and speaker. The researchers told them to give oral responses to the notifications. The fourth test involved a text, and the driver had to reply and type a response to the text.

Unsurprisingly, drivers were more distracted by smartwatches than mobile phones. And they were distracted more when written texts were involved because they had to divert their attention away from the road to read and reply to the message.

Drivers conversely remained more focused on the road and driving when they received messages through a speaker.

The study proves that text alerts through voice technology were the safest, while notifications through a smartwatch were most dangerous.

Do States Have Any Laws Addressing Smartwatches and Other Wearables?


Most states consider distracted driving like making phone calls and texting while driving illegal. There are a few jurisdictions with exceptions for hands-free applications. However, there are only a few or no restrictions restricting the use of smartwatches while driving.

What to Do If You Get Involved in a Distracted Driving Accident

Consult your Glendale auto accident lawyer if you were involved in an accident where the other driver’s smartwatch distraction triggered the accident.

Your auto accident attorney in Glendale knows the laws better and will be able to help you make a claim. They will conduct the necessary examination and collect evidence to prove you were not at fault.

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