Can I Use My Smartwatch While Driving?

Technology has advanced at a miraculous speed in recent decades, with every aspect of human life being impacted by wild and wacky new creations. The cars that we drive have grown from rudimentary mechanical objects to finely-tuned and streamlined machines that we often take for granted. But, perhaps nothing has changed so much so rapidly quite like the invention of the smartphone. These devices get thinner and thinner, with more and more abilities, so much so that you can now, in a sense, wear them on your wrist. This raised some questions though; using a smartphone behind the wheel of a car is, of course, against the law… so does this also extend to smartwatches? They do many of the same things, after all. Let us answer that question.

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Driver of a car looking at their smart watch

Is It Illegal To Use A Smartwatch While Driving?

Using a smartwatch while driving is considered to be just as distracting as using a mobile phone. As such, it is illegal to use one while you’re in control of a vehicle in just the same ways, despite the fact that smartwatches are not technically handheld.

This means you are not allowed to use the device in any way while driving your car, van or motorcycle, and even covers scenarios where the vehicle isn’t moving but you are still in control of it. This includes when: 

  • Stopped at traffic lights
  • Sitting in stationary traffic
  • Supervising a learner driver
  • Driving a vehicle with stop/start technology
  • Using a device in offline or flight mode

The only times that you are allowed to operate any device, smartwatches included, while in the driver’s seat of a car are:

  • If you need to call emergency services and can’t safely stop the vehicle
  • When you’re safely parked
  • When you’re making a payment at a drive-through window
  • If you’re using the device to remotely park the car

What Happens If I’m Caught Using My Smartwatch While Driving?

If you’re caught out while sneaking a peek at your smartwatch while driving your car or van, the punishments can be incredibly severe. The most lenient consequence of all is a fine of £200 (which on its own can feel like a real kick in the teeth) alongside six penalty points added to your licence. It gets worse for new drivers though; those that have passed their test within the last two years will have their licence revoked!

If the police deem your action to be particularly reckless though, they could charge you with either dangerous driving or driving without due care and attention, two individual charges that can result in you being given points on your licence or banned from driving altogether, an unlimited fine and, in worst case scenarios, a spell in prison.

How To Avoid Getting Distracted By A Smartwatch

The best way to avoid getting distracted by any electronic device while you’re at the wheel is to simply turn it off or remove it from your reach.

Tempted to check your emails on the M42? Feel the burning desire to follow the football scores while stuck in traffic on a Saturday afternoon? Take your smartwatch off your wrist and put it in the glove compartment, in the side of your door, or in a bag or coat pocket.

Failing this, you could put it into flight mode. This should stop you from being distracted by any incoming notifications or being tempted to check anything online, but remember, you will still be stopped by police if you do play around with your watch even if it’s on flight mode.

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