​Apple iWatch even more distracting than a mobile phone

Updated: 
Apple Unveils iPhone 6
Getty Images

The Apple iWatch is the latest device to be slammed by road safety campaigners as a dangerous distraction to motorists. While those using mobile phones behind the wheel have come under fire from police, those using one of the upcoming iWatches could be even more distracted, according to road safety charity, the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM).

This latest piece of wearable technology can connect to an iPhone, allowing users to make and receive calls and check messages through the wrist-mounted device. As distracted drivers are blamed for a significant proportion of crashes on the roads the IAM has said that this smartwatch "could significantly impair driving performance", making it a liability for drivers who use one behind the wheel.

Neil Greig, IAM Director of Policy and Research said: "An iWatch has the potential to be just as distracting as any other smartphone device. Indeed more so if you have to take your hand off the wheel and your eyes off the road to interact with it."

Research carried out by the IAM found that smartphone distraction led to 1,960 crashes, which resulted in serious injuries – including 110 fatal accidents between 2006 and 2010. The charity predicts that having a wristwatch linked to a smartphone would lead to an even higher proportion of distracted drivers, with constant alerts from the device demanding motorists' attention. Drivers may even need to use two hands to operate the device, "impacting speed, lane position and time spend looking at the road".

Mr Greig added: "Enforcement will be difficult for the police, but powers exist to seize and interrogate devices in the event of a serious crash. The very device that distracted you also has the power to convict you."

The Department for Transport has recently confirmed that drivers caught using an iWatch - and other similar smart watches - will face the same penalty as those using a hand-held mobile phone – three penalty points on their licence and a £100 fine.