Is using the Apple Watch while driving considered a legal hands free method?

Discussion in 'Apple Watch' started by docprego, Jan 5, 2016.

  1. docprego macrumors 65816

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    #1
    (I wasn't sure where to post this but since it's about the Watch, I chose this forum. Mods please advise if necessary.)

    It would be incredibly convenient to connect my iPhone 6s Plus to my car via Bluetooth and then control it using my Apple Watch. When connected to the car via Bluetooth the car's system supports only navigation within the current album, meaning next and previous track, and play/pause. Obviously the watch allows full navigation within albums, artists, and more.

    I'd love to do this, my only concern is the legality of it.

    Any opinions or thoughts on the matter would be appreciated, thank you.
     
  2. gwhizkids macrumors 68020

    gwhizkids

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    #2
    I doubt any state has yet passed a law specifically about the AW. However, they might get you under generic distracted driving laws. I think a watch is probably more distracting than a phone. Voice use might be ok
     
  3. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    #3
    I have read somewhere that at least in one jurisdiction it was still considered a cell phone, but who knows what the reality of it is.

    That said, while I think the AW is a great companion in the car because I don't need to drag my phone out for every short trip to still get notifications or get basic control of my music, I can't see how you are going to get any real way to browse your music library from the watch. Doing so is difficult when sitting still, let alone when driving a car. If you want better control of your music, get a good mount for the phone and get in the habit of placing it there. You get great hands-free voice control, and good ability to navigate your library with reasonable safety. Many of the good mounts today are a single hand affair for inserting and removing the phone.
     
  4. nightcap965 macrumors 6502a

    nightcap965

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    #4
    I don't think the Apple Watch would work very well over the ambient noise of driving, unless you're driving with your wrist next to your ear, which rather defeats the purpose.
     
  5. BarracksSi macrumors 68040

    BarracksSi

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    #5
    Not sure if the silent taps for left and right would count for "using" the watch.

    I am loathe to use anything I need to read while driving, whether it's the phone or the watch screen. I'm even considering not having a nav system in my next car.

    I used to have an app on the phone which easily controlled music playback with full-screen swipes and taps. The premise was to avoid looking at the screen to tap small targets.
     
  6. Newtons Apple macrumors Pentium

    Newtons Apple

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    #6
    Any use of an electronic device is considered a distraction. Even if not illegal it is still a distraction from driving.
     
  7. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #7
    In Massachusetts the laws are such that technically its not legal, as its distracting you from focusing on your driving. In fact that was one of the major reasons against passing a texting while driving law (it was passed however). Why pass something that is already forebidded by law?
     
  8. Julien macrumors G3

    Julien

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    #8
    Driving laws in the US are by the states. So you can't just ask is it legal or not. You need to check NV laws.
     
  9. JayLenochiniMac macrumors G5

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    #9
    I don't know about other states, but a California court has ruled that even handling the iPhone while using turn-by-turn is legal in CA as it isn't specifically disallowed according to the language of this state's hands-free law (talking, texting, etc.).
     
  10. Mad Mac Maniac macrumors 601

    Mad Mac Maniac

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    #10
    A coworker was just telling me yesterday about how strict NV is for distracted driving. Apparently he knows someone who got a ticket for putting on chapstick while at a stoplight. Sounds ridiculous to me. Apparently both hands need to remain on the wheel while operating a motor vehicle (not sure about non steering wheel radio controls, but likely the same)

    Also, I would say the watch is probably more distracting than a phone. The tiny screen combined with the awkward way you need to hold your arm to view while driving... plus of course to actually interact with the device requires two hands (as opposed to one handed phone operation) or clunky voice which can often be more distracting due to unreliability

    Except for the taps for driving directions. Those are fantastic
     
  11. rowdt1 macrumors regular

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    #11
    I don't know about the US but in the Netherlands it is forbidden. It is considered as a replacement for your phone and therefore illegal to use (even passively) when operating any vehicle.

    For the sake of common sense: don't use it all too much when driving.. The reason why is too obvious to mention.
     
  12. docprego thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #12
    Playing Devil's advocate; How would looking at a screen attached to a wrist of a hand that is on the top of the steering wheel be any different or more distracting than looking at the many displays which cars now commonly have in the instrument cluster? They're both in line of sight directly ahead and both require your eyes to look away from the road briefly.

    I'm not saying there's a right or wrong answer, but it does make you think.

    Taking it a step further, infotainment screens located centrally in the dash require your attention to be off the road to an even greater degree, yet they are obviously all legal.
     
  13. rowdt1 macrumors regular

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    #13
    Easy one. Car manufacturers have excellent lobbyists. If cars were to be manufactured as of today I highly doubt if it'd ever become legal, just like alcohol. The economy is heavily dependant on logistics and therefore I believe it's being tolerated, really.
     
  14. BarracksSi macrumors 68040

    BarracksSi

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    #14
    Infotainment screens are set to lock out the "tainment" functions (well, movies and video) if they're within the driver's vision and the car is moving. You can bypass the lockout through aftermarket means, but they're not sold that way.

    I'm not enjoying the idea of buying a new car. The car I have now doesn't have any fancy screens, so it's easy to restrict navigation to only audio cues from the phone. I don't want a ton of gadgets in whatever car I get next.
     
  15. AlliFlowers Contributor

    AlliFlowers

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    #15
    What the heck are you supposed to do if you drive a car with a manual transmission? I think they're going a bit overboard. And yes the taps for directions are excellent!!

    Cars being manufactured today are including so many distractions on the dashboard, it's silly to make using cellphone use illegal - unless they are docked. The crap they are putting in cars now defies common sense.
     
  16. redman042 macrumors 68020

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    #16
    90% of the controls in a modern vehicle are electronic. Makes it difficult to draw a distinction.
     
  17. ftlum macrumors regular

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    Oct 24, 2011
    #17
    It's much safer for me to return text pages by pressing my watch just once. Previously, I had to look at my pager or phone (after unlocking it), remember the number, and try to voice dial it over my Bluetooth headset, which didn't always get the number right. It's so much easier now and this feature alone is actually what prompted me to get my watch. I wish the watch speaker was a little louder though-- I can just barely hear it over road noise.

    Getting back to the topic-- the way I use my watch makes my calling even more hands free than before. I would never do more complicated watch tasks, however-- I personally wouldn't think that would constitute hands free use.
     
  18. Newtons Apple macrumors Pentium

    Newtons Apple

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    #18
    Not if you think about it.
     
  19. BarracksSi macrumors 68040

    BarracksSi

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    #19
    I stopped trying to return texts while driving. I also never expect anyone else to respond to my texts while they're driving; if I know they're driving and I get a text, I write back, "Stop texting and just drive!", then I won't text them until I see them again.

    Texting drivers are why I carry coffee instead of a brick while I walk to work. I wouldn't want to throw away my coffee, but I'd probably throw a brick at their windshield and make myself late for work.
     

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