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Should Using a Smartwatch While Driving be Illegal?

Automobile logo Automobile 2015-04-27 Jake Holmes
Hyundai Blue Link Smartwatch © Provided by Automobile Hyundai Blue Link Smartwatch

If you're planning to check text messages on your Apple Watch while behind the wheel, think again. That's the message from attorney Stephen Joseph, who recently filed a lawsuit against the manufacturers of several popular smartwatches. The L.A. Times reports that Joseph's lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court names Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Samsung.

Under the court order, Joseph reportedly wants the four smartwatch manufacturers to jointly fund a $1 billion "education campaign" to teach the public about the dangers of looking at or interacting with a smartwatch display while driving. Many regions have already banned the use of touchscreen smartphones while behind the wheel, and Joseph's lawsuit reportedly wants to extend that warning to touchscreen watches.

Porsche Car Connect Apple Watch 1 © Provided by Automobile Porsche Car Connect Apple Watch 1

"The temptation to check the tiny screen immediately after receiving a notification is virtually irresistible," the lawsuit says, according to The L.A. Times.

According to a research group in the U.K., drivers in a test environment took 26 percent more time to react to situations while driving after reading notifications on a smartwatch. Drivers in the test reportedly took an average of 2.52 seconds to react to an emergency on the road after checking a smartwatch message, versus just 1.85 seconds when holding a smartphone.

While they haven't encouraged owners to use smartwatches while actually driving, several automakers have developed apps that will allow drivers to interact with their car through Samsung or Apple smartwatches. The Hyundai BlueLink watch app and the Porsche Car Connect app, for instance, both allow car owners to check their vehicle's status, lock or unlock the doors, locate the car in a crowded parking lot, and even start the car's engine remotely from the watch.

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