Research: Smartwatches affect drivers more than phones

(Image Credit: iStockPhoto/gmnicholas)

Tests conducted by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) in Wokingham have shown that reading a smartwatch whilst driving is more distracting than reading a smartphone and results in longer reaction time to perform an emergency manoeuvre.

A driver reading a message on a smartwatch took 2.52 seconds to react in an emergency, whilst using a handheld mobile caused a 1.85 second delay. The TRL also tested reactions whilst talking to a passenger which created the least delay at 0.9 seconds.

Recently, the UK government has been running graphic TV ads which highlight the dangers of driving whilst distracted (where even a second delay can be the difference between life or death.)


The use of smartphones whilst driving has been banned since 2003, but has still received the blame for many fatal collisions since. With research proving that smartwatches are close to twice as distracting, it is sure to create discussion about whether use of the devices should also be banned from use.

Whilst the study doesn't provide detail about the reasons for why a smartwatch is more distracting, we can guess their small size are either harder-to-read or the instinct to read notifications straight away is causing drivers to look at them in unsafe conditions.

Speaking from personal experience, I hold my hand up that I've glanced at my smartwatch whilst driving under the (false) impression it feels safe. On the other hand, I've never used a smartphone whilst driving because it feels like it takes more attention away from the road.

The results of this research mean I'll no longer look at my smartwatch whilst driving, and I hope that others are at least made aware of the risks they are putting themselves and those around them at through using any device whilst on the road.

Do you think smartwatches should be banned whilst driving? Let us know in the comments. in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their use-cases? Attend the co-located IoT Tech Expo, Blockchain Expo, AI & Big Data Expo and Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam and explore the future of enterprise technology.

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