back to article Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE

We're struggling to find a single reason why anyone would want to wear an Apple Watch, but here's one reason why you shouldn't. The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has warned that anyone caught using a justWatch when driving will be be hit with the same punishment as if they had been using a mobile phone. This …

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  1. John Robson Silver badge

    Except that...

    We have no police any more, so the chances of being caught are sufficiently small that noone cares.

    At least that's what I see on the roads - huge numbers of people still using handheld phones.

    1. Ledswinger Silver badge

      Re: Except that...

      "We have no police any more,"

      Well there's around 130,000 people currently being paid as police officers, plus another 13,000 PCSOs. Over ten years that's a fairly minimal 3% reduction in real coppers, with the number of plastic plods rising by 12,000, so I'm not sure what your baseline is for "any more".

      I'd agree that they are far less visible than they used to be but as their previous currency was often harassing speeding motorists on long, wide straight roads, or enforcing a motorway speed limit held in near universal contempt, I'm not sure that there's been much loss. And the advent of Highways Agency traffic officers has been a further boon for motorists, since they sort out minor incidents far quicker than the police managed.

      1. phuzz Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Except that...

        "Well there's around 130,000 people currently being paid as police officers"

        Yes, but most of them are stood outside the Ecuadorian embassy waiting for Assange(tm) to come out.

      2. Richard Jones 1
        WTF?

        Re: Except that...

        It does appear that too many police are forced to spend hours filling forms and doing diversity training, audits and other vital tasks rather than looking after the people who need their help.

        Certainly the rise of those who feel it is valid to drive straight on at roundabouts, So far this week I have had one a day nearly T-bone me as I go round and they go straight across the mound. Overtaking on double white lines 'isn't that what the lines are for?' appears to be the attitude of many drivers these days. Red lights just mean cross faster; hand held phones are for folding - NOT just apple things but any phone will do.

        There was an error in singling out the apple watch thing. It should have been a timely reminder that any (all?) similar device(s) are already covered by existing legislation. In this regard apple is nothing special and should not be picked out.

      3. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: Except that...

        ""We have no police any more,"

        Well there's around 130,000 people currently being paid as police officers, plus another 13,000 PCSOs. Over ten years that's a fairly minimal 3% reduction in real coppers, with the number of plastic plods rising by 12,000, so I'm not sure what your baseline is for "any more"."

        Hyperbole?

        Of course we still have police officers, but the actual rate at which they monitor for basic bad driving or dangerous vehicle maintenance is virtually nil. Even with the PCSOs and the Highways Agency (who I've never seen clear anything up, let alone quickly) there is virtually no enforcement of any law on the road.

        Motorists jump traffic lights, ignore speed limits, use hand held mobile phones, fail to clear their windows before setting off, only have one head/brake light working, use their foglights in good visibility, fail to indicate, ignore double white lines, ignore double yellow lines.... and none of this is regularly detected or prosecuted by the judicial system (yes I know illegal parking is now "decriminalised").

        Obviously not all of the above applies to all motorists all the time, but it doesn't take much of a journey to observe them all.

        Currently the judicial system makes important what is easy to measure (speed), and ignores what is not (tailgating) - then they give such massive latitude against what is easy to measure (such that the police have told me that the speed camera just up the road from where I live is set to 37mph in a 30 zone that habitual speeding is practically encouraged.

        This general laissex faire attitude towards driving, and the complete lack of any punishment if you ever do manage to get to the courts, means that bad driving isn't dealt with until you kill someone - and at that point the motorist was "unlucky".

    2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      "...powers exist to seize and interrogate devices..."

      Meanwhile in other news... Didn't Apple *just* announce that the power to "interrogate devices" is no longer available to anyone except the owner?

      Does the iWatch have a PIN Code?

      1. Steve 53

        Re: New???

        They could force you to provide the decryption key under RIPA, if they really wanted to

      2. Richard Jones 1
        Flame

        Re: "...powers exist to seize and interrogate devices..."

        (a) They can demand the code under RIPA, but

        (b) also they can and will obtain the data from the service provider relating to activity at the time of or immediately before a serious accident.

        The shame is that the evidence is retrospective and too late if the user or someone else is dead.

        I have just followed a stupid person out of a hospital car park. The effort to pull out of a parking space was considerable increased by their need to hand hold two phones in one hand! Fortunately they then turned left so I turned right.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Except that...

      You mean that in proportion to the number of metal boxes on the roads we have less police? that's the only way your statement could have any value.

      So what is YOUR solution?

  2. Flugal

    The number of drivers who still consider using a non hands-free mobile phone at the wheel quite acceptable suggests a) The police don't give a f**k, and b) The drivers don't give a f**k.

    'i' won't be purchasing a justWatch, but doubt the largely uninforced threat of the law will have any great impact on the vehicular activities of justWatch wearers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Wonder how this applies to my Ipod Nano (6th gen) that I wear on my wrist like a watch.

    2. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

      "The police don't give a f**k,"

      They do. They are just too busy playing with their 2-way radios, console mounted PC, personal cell phone and radar gun to notice.

  3. Semtex451 Silver badge
    Coat

    You justWatch

    We'll soon have Stephen Pie's opinion

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Speedo?

    "The risk comes when drivers take their eyes off the road to peer at their watch. Stare too long, the transport bods warned, and you will kill yourself and others."

    s/watch/speedometer/

    Why do they never say that?

    1. ZSn

      Re: Speedo?

      Because it's not true?

      1. Joe Harrison Silver badge

        Re: Speedo?

        Yes it is, maybe not the speedo but the other stuff. I've had my car for six years and the heater is so fiddly I still can't do it without looking carefully.

        1. Flip

          Re: Speedo?

          Twice a year I have to remember how to change the radio clock - something best done while parked.

          The actual instrument gauges, on the other hand, are easy to scan and interpret while driving. Monitoring the gauges is actually taught by driving schools - a quick glance to confirm everything is ok, then back to the road.

          1. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge

            Re: Speedo?

            I never bother changing it. Forces a little thought :-)

        2. Tom 35 Silver badge

          Re: Speedo?

          The guy at the auto show got pissed at me for saying their touch screen control panel was going to kill people. Heat, nav, radio, phone... all on one touch screen. You can't just reach over for a nob, you can't feel anything, you have to look at the bloody thing.

          It might be a good idea to say away from the roads for a week after the AppleWatch is released so the toy obsessed will have a chance to get sick of playing with the thing.

      2. Elmer Phud Silver badge

        Re: Speedo?

        I've always wondered how come it take longer to glance at the speedo than it does to check the mirrors.

        Or a quick glance at the dash to check no funny lights have come on.

        Or looking at road sign or or or or

        How come we are told its hard to keep to 50mph on a restricted section

        Do we really need to ensure we are always dead on 50mph?

        Poor exuses for crap driving more like it.

        (that or whinging after being caught)

        1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

          Re: Speedo?

          > I've always wondered how come it take longer to glance at the speedo than it does to check the mirrors.

          It doesn't take longer to "glance". It does take longer to check your accurate speed. It also depends on how good (or not) your eyesight is and how long it takes to adjust your focus - yes, I used to respond to that one with "WTF ?" but as the old elapsed time meter rolls round, I'm realising that it is a factor (especially if there is a significant difference in brightness between inside and outside, and some cars have crap instruments in this respect).

          TL;DR version ?

          I can hold "about" any speed with only occasional glances at the speedo. If I were in Brunstrom* Country with a stupid policy then I'd have to spend far too long looking at the speedo to be sure not to creep a smidgen over some arbitrary number.

          * Thankfully that dangerous idiot was hoisted by his own petard.

          1. Richard Jones 1
            WTF?

            Re: Speedo?

            I find the cruise control wonderful. Cruise up to say 48 for the 50 limit and just sometimes use the up and down to maintain a near constant safe speed. It works blindingly well through motorway works. Mind you a speed limiter would be even better. However I do have a nice easily read set of instruments.

            1. Extra spicey vindaloo

              Re: Speedo?

              I love speed limiters, great for motorway driving and good for town as well. The toyota that I recently rented though had the worst implementation of a speed limiter, it took longer to look and set it than I felt safe with doing.

        2. MrXavia

          Re: Speedo?

          "Do we really need to ensure we are always dead on 50mph?"

          yes, otherwise you'll get fines & points on your license, that is of much more importance than actually keeping your eyes on the road....

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Speedo?

        "Because it's not true?"

        Yes it is. Stare resolutely at the speedo and sooner or later you will crash because you're not looking at the road ahead. Same goes for the satnav, looking at a map or dicking around with the radio or trip computer.

        Flicking your eyes to read a text message is no more dangerous in principle than looking at the speedo, although normally a text message is more information-dense and requires longer glances, which is where the increased risk is introduced.

        I reserve special loathing for touch-screen radios and dash controls which require you to look where you're putting your finger. "Traditional" and "old-fashioned" tactile controls (dials and buttons) have the great advantage of being operable by touch alone without taking your eyes off the road.

        Someone who causes an accident because they're playing angry birds on their wrist should of course be dealt with appropriately (execution ideally), but the mere act of wearing a smart watch is no more incriminating than driving a car full of factory-fitted gadgets distractions.

        1. Jess--

          Re: Speedo?

          re: touchscreen stereos

          I agree regarding the 100% touchscreen stereo systems, I went for an older model which (while still being touchscreen based) has a big volume knob next to the screen which has the nice addition of a single push of the knob (instead of turning) muting the system entirely no matter what it's doing (phone, pratnav or music)

          another nice touch is that if I get an incoming phone call 1/2 of the screen is green "Answer" and the other half is red "Decline" meaning it's a big target to hit at a glance.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Speedo?

          You guys need to get newer cars with HUDs. Analogue dials, thats so 20th century.

          1. Hellcat

            Re: Speedo?

            My 1989 Fiat Tipo had a digital dashboard. Can't help but chuckle at these 'modern' cars with their digital displays.

            1. Winkypop Silver badge

              Re: Speedo?

              My 1986 Alfa Romeo had a full digital dash.

              When it worked.

              It had a habit of 'rebooting' while driving at night.

              No lights, no instruments, no idea.

        3. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Speedo?

          Someone who causes an accident because they're playing angry birds on their wrist should of course be dealt with appropriately (execution ideally)...

          So, should they be loaded into a giant slingshot and hurled at some random collection of debris or be forced to stay in one place while poultry is fired at them from on high? Either one works for me.

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: Speedo?

            Okay, lets say all of us here have glaced away from the road at times

            All: Speedo

            Some: + + our watches to tell the time

            Looking at the speedo requires a glance, which is within margin., as is glancing at a wristwatch to tell the time.

            Both are information displayed in an expected format. both are unchangiong in the way they disaply that information - there is no 'surprise' information, noe unexpected SMS text.

            Except that the Speedo display can surprise: A warning light! However, it is a warning, so it is only telling you to safely slow down and then safely park. It is not telling you "that the timing chain is getting worn so get it seen by a professional now or else risk engine damage soon" - by the time you've read that, you would have crashed.

    2. Mike Smith

      Re: Speedo?

      Or

      s/watch/scantily dressed female on the pavement

      s/watch/kids fighting in the back

      s/watch/accident

      s/watch/animated billboard

      s/watch/punch-up outside a pub

      s/watch/you get the idea

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Speedo?

        Car stereos that don't have a volume knob, but instead rely on two fiddly buttons.

    3. AIBailey

      Re: Speedo?

      Without an Apple Watch...

      > glance at speedo

      > note current speed

      > look back at road.

      Somewhat different to

      > Glance at watch

      > See that Fred has sent a text/email/FaceBook message

      > Press button to read more of message

      > Continue to drive whilst repeatedly glancing at wrist to read message (due to the small sizxe of the watch face, this may take some time, and will require concentration)

      etc.

      The significant phrase above is "Stare too long".

    4. Amorous Cowherder

      Re: Speedo?

      Use voice control? I've only got a bog standard Honda CRV and it has full voice control for almost every system in the car, including heating, sat nav, music/radio, phone calls. Push one button on the steering wheel and then tell it what you want, "heater up one degree", "radio preset two", "satnav destination home" or "phone book dial home" to get the handfree to use my mobile. Alright you look a bit mental to passers by while sitting at the lights shouting at no one inside your car but at least you never have to take your eye off the road other than for the speedo. You can use cruise control to lock the speed on long roads.

      My kids have a great time yelling rude or stupid words at the cars voice control to see how badly it interprets their squeeky tones!

    5. JP19

      Re: Speedo?

      "s/watch/speedometer/

      Why do they never say that?"

      Because they are full of shit. Anything which you allow to distract you from the task of driving sufficiently is dangerous which is why outlawing specific distractions and effectively legalising all others is stupid and counter productive.

      I've said here before a dick head with a phone in his hand is still a dick head when you take the phone away. We need to concentrate on curing the cause of the problem (being a dick head) not on hiding some of the symptoms.

    6. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. JP19

        Re: Speedo?

        "The people who claim speed limits are dangerous because"

        If I could not drive safely without a speedometer I would give up driving.

        Why don't you try covering up your speedometer and see if you worry more about life and limb or license and wallet.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Driving is very difficult

    I once had some minor trouble driving while sewing a button on my shirt, while I was in a sleeping bag at the same time.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: Driving is very difficult

      Well what did you expect when your bobble hat was falling over your eyes?

  6. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Knee Jerk Off

    So this is legislation on the basis that Mr. Plod "thinks" it's a crime - the Google Android watches have been out for a while now - how many accidents have they caused? Should we actually wait and see if using a watch is a problem before legislating?

    Years ago I had a watch that told me the time in four different zones, the altitude, barometric pressure, and a host of other features - is this now illegal? What about winding up a real wrist-watch?

    Odd how coppers seem to be able to use hand-held radio mics in cars ...

    1. ISP

      Re: Knee Jerk Off

      It's driving without due care and attention, pretty much a catch all offence.

      1. The First Dave

        Re: Knee Jerk Off

        Actually it's not an offence _yet_ - no cases have gone to court, so no magistrates have had a chance to set a precedent either way, so all that plod can actually say is that they intend to treat it as such. They are also wrong in saying that it is the same a using a mobile phone - which is a fixed penalty offence these days, quite unlike "due care and attention".

        Not that plod would ever give out inaccurate advice...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Knee Jerk Off

      Should we actually wait and see if using a watch is a problem before legislating?

      It's proven that arsing about with devices, and therefore not concentrating on the road, causes accidents.

      Odd how coppers seem to be able to use hand-held radio mics in cars ...

      Not really, the driver doesn't hold it in their hand and they've had repeated advanced driver training - also, who the fuck drives dangerously where there's a police car near by?

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

        Re: Knee Jerk Off

        The average PC is probably more pissed off that on his salary he can't afford the iStuff himself...

      2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

        Re: Knee Jerk Off

        who the fuck drives dangerously where there's a police car near by?

        Seems to me everyone tends towards that. I suspect most drivers feel pressured by the presence of a police car on their tail, keep checking their speedos and mirrors looking to see if they have gone yet and worrying they are about to get pulled for some reason. Trying to drive absolutely perfectly and simple paranoia seems to do odd things to normal people.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Knee Jerk Off

        "Not really, the driver doesn't hold it in their hand" Yes they do, some of them have a look at plain clothes for that example

        "who the f- drives dangerously where there's a police car near by"

        Well quite a lot of people. When behind with blues on they tend to do stupid things like pull over immediately on a narrow road with a nice bend in front, or on the approach to a roundabout with no room to pass, or a brow of a hill. If an emergency vehicle is behind, just keep driving until there is a nice safe place to slow right down or pull over, not hard is it.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Knee Jerk Off

          > If an emergency vehicle is behind, just keep driving until there is a nice safe place to slow right down or pull over, not hard is it.

          Agreed, if its intention to pull you over. No harm in gently slowing, and maybe blinkng your lights to communicate that you have got message and will pull over at the first available safe place.

          If an ambulance, give a flash of your headlights whist planning your action, as it might help the people ahead of you notice the ambulance behind you and thus move move appropriately too.

          1. Graham Marsden
            Boffin

            Blue Light Aware

            > If an emergency vehicle is behind, just keep driving until there is a nice safe place to slow right down or pull over, not hard is it.

            http://www.bluelightaware.org.uk/

      4. DougS Silver badge

        "Advanced training"

        Always the excuse for why police can use radios, computers, etc. while driving despite laws preventing it for the rest of us.

        You can't train someone to multitask. Human brains have a limited capacity for that, other than the 2% of whatever of the population that are "supertaskers" (which 90% of people probably think they fall under) Cops can't do this any better than you or I can, unless they're one of that 2%.

        Besides, the training police have for driving fast many of us spent a lot of time practicing extensively in our younger days. I'd bet on myself (or anyone else reading this who was similarly non law abiding when younger and perhaps still occasionally when older :)) to win a race against any cop who always has and still does follow speed limits as a private citizen and only drove fast during training or when absolutely necessary in his job.

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