Ontario Judge Finds Woman Guilty of Distracted Driving for Looking at Apple Watch

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A Canadian woman has been found guilty of distracted driving for looking at her Apple Watch, despite claims that she was just checking the time while waiting for a red light to change (via The National Post).

A judge in the Ontario Court of Justice ordered University of Guelph student Victoria Ambrose to pay a $400 fine, after determining that she had spent too much time staring at her smartwatch while being in control of a vehicle.


According to court documents, the woman was ticketed after a police officer noticed the glow from an electronic gadget coming from the woman's car, which was stationary beside his cruiser at a red light.

The officer reported that he saw the woman look up and down at the device four times in 20 seconds, and then fail to move forward when the light turned green. The officer then shone a light into her car and she began to drive. When he pulled her over, he realized that she had been looking at an Apple Watch.

In Ontario, it is illegal for drivers to talk, text, type, dial or email using hand-held cell phones and other hand-held communications and entertainment devices, such as smartphones, portable media players, GPS systems and laptops.

Previously, the province had not designated the Apple Watch or other smartwatches as being illegal to use while operating a motor vehicle. However, in judging Ambrose's case, Justice of the Peace Lloyd Phillipps rejected her argument that the Apple Watch being on her wrist satisfies an exemption for devices securely mounted inside the vehicle.
"Checking one's timepiece is normally done in a moment, even if it had to be touched to be activated," said Phillipps.

"Despite the Apple Watch being smaller than a cellular phone, on the evidence, it is a communication device capable of receiving and transmitting electronic data. While attached to the defendant's wrist, it is no less a source of distraction than a cellphone taped to someone's wrist.

"The key to determining this matter is distraction. It is abundantly clear from the evidence that Ms. Ambrose was distracted when the officer made his observations."
Safety tests carried out in the U.K. in 2015 concluded that using a smartwatch while driving is more dangerous than using a smartphone.

According to the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), a driver reading a message on an Apple Watch would take 2.52 seconds to react to an emergency maneuver, whereas a driver talking to another passenger reacts in 0.9 seconds.

Article Link: Ontario Judge Finds Woman Guilty of Distracted Driving for Looking at Apple Watch
 

Bruce Patterson

macrumors regular
Jan 3, 2007
145
102
Winter Park, Florida
Could she have just been checking the time? How many ppl get a ticket because of being distracted by their fast food drive through pickup or a loud song on the radio? I bet hardly any.

I’m against cell phone being used in cars by drivers but this seems a bit much. What about phones clipped to the dashboard for navigation? Are those banned too?
 
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Kabeyun

macrumors 68030
Mar 27, 2004
2,726
5,147
Eastern USA
Could she have just been checking the time?
Right there in the first paragraph.
[doublepost=1528026270][/doublepost]
A Canadian cop looking to make his ticket quota and trying to impress his bosses how sad cops have nothing better to do.
look out next tickets for breathing too long.
Distracted driving is more dangerous than drunk driving. Driving while eletronically distracted is the same as having four drinks and getting behind the wheel. Distracted driving is increasing while drunk driving is decreasing, and anti-distraction laws are already hard enough to enforce. Cops should ticket it whenever they see it. I’m sure you’d say the same if a member of your family was run over by a texting driver. Rather than attack the officer who did his job, I’ll say that the problem is that distracted driving laws aren’t enforced enough.
 
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twistedpixel8

macrumors 6502
Jun 9, 2017
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There was no mention of her interacting with the watch so this is BS. If you aren’t allowed to glance at illuminated screens in a car then we have to ban GPS displays, infotainment systems, HUDs, digital dashboards - pretty much anything with pixels.

Sometimes it’s necessary to check these things and doing it at a red light seems pretty reasonable. So you’re a little late to move at green, big deal. If someone tries to overtake you in that situation and crashes, that’s their fault. Don’t want to be late? Leave god damn earlier. I’ve seen people staring at their GPS screen for ages while doing 50mph. That *is* dangerous.
 

sirozha

macrumors 65816
Jan 4, 2008
1,126
1,387
A similar happened to me in the US. I was touching my iPhone at a traffic light, as I was trying to figure out my route. The cop was right next to my car, which I didn’t realize. He pulled me over, and I pleaded that I wasn’t texting but rather trying to figure out how to get to my destination.

He gave me a warning and said that the use of any communication device in a car by the driver is illegal, and even if my iPhone were mounted, it would still be illegal. After the incident, I googled this and found out that some cops meet and exceed their ticket quotas by giving tickets to anyone who touched their phones while driving even though only “texting” while driving is explicitly prohibited in my state.

If Ontario bans the use of any hand held communication device while driving, is every car rented out by car rental companies equipped with updates GPS units? I will be in Ontario in 2 weeks, and I need to be able to navigate off my iPhone while driving there.
 
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miniroll32

macrumors 65816
Mar 28, 2010
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There’s no need to use a smart watch or phone while driving.

The time is on your dashboard. Your phone calls and messages can wait for the length of the journey. Notifications won’t suddenly disappear.

I think it’s selfish that drivers are willing to put others at risk just to keep ‘check’ on their social lives, when for many of these messages/apps, the only way to respond appropriately is to use a phone in the first place.
 

elvisimprsntr

macrumors 6502
Jul 17, 2013
366
482
Florida
Distracted driving is a huge issue. Even using handsfree BT connectivity to make phone calls is a distraction. I have seen people shaving, putting on make-up, eating, talking on the phone raised to their ear, all while swerving in and out of traffic at 80 mph (128.75 kph). It's just as dangerous as DWI/DUI. Those who cannot exercise self control to focus on driving should have their license suspended and be fined appropriately.
 

ravenstar

macrumors regular
Jan 12, 2005
243
446
If Ontario bans the use of any hand held communication device while driving, is every car rented out by car rental companies equipped with updates GPS units? I will be in Ontario in 2 weeks, and I need to be able to navigate off my iPhone while driving there.
Why do you need to be looking down at your phone or holding it in your hand to navigate? I use mine routinely for navigation when I'm taking trips, but never have to look at it. I choose and review the route before I even start the car, then I follow the voice prompts. Why doesn't that work for you?
[doublepost=1528028616][/doublepost]
Could she have just been checking the time? How many ppl get a ticket because of being distracted by their fast food drive through pickup or a loud song on the radio? I bet hardly any.
She claims she was, but I'm skeptical. According to the article, she was stopped after failing to react to the light changing until the officer aimed a light into her car.
 

ArtOfWarfare

macrumors G3
Nov 26, 2007
8,847
4,628
Do we have an actual video of this, or do we have the testimony of one flawed human being against another’s and that’s all?

Checking your watch 4 times at a red light seems like NBD to me... could have an important meeting and be super nervously checking to see how much time you have until it.

Failing to move when the light turns green could be an issue... depends on how long it was green for.

I mean... who doesn’t sometimes look at their phone at a red light? They often last several minutes and you’re not moving, so it’s not dangerous. Worst case is you miss when it turns green and waste your time + the time of individuals behind you... but if they didn’t honk, then they’re just as distracted as you are (or you’re wasting no one’s time but your own.)
 
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Black Tiger

macrumors 6502
Jul 2, 2007
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$400 is not enough. Make it $4000 and maybe people will get a clue. And yes, it makes sense to me that a smart watch is potentially more distracting considering how small the screen is for Reading. The key point is that she was distracted and didn’t react to the light.
 

RickInHouston

macrumors 65816
May 14, 2014
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Distracted driving is a huge issue. Even using handsfree BT connectivity to make phone calls is a distraction. I have seen people shaving, putting on make-up, eating, talking on the phone raised to their ear, all while swerving in and out of traffic at 80 mph (128.75 kph). It's just as dangerous as DWI/DUI. Those who cannot exercise self control to focus on driving should have their license suspended and be fined appropriately.
I blame Steve Jobs!
 
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caipirina08

macrumors member
Jun 30, 2015
36
30
And THIS is why we can't have nice things ...

4 times in 20 seconds, sounds to me more like she was getting / reading a stream of messages, thinking about responding with thumbs up .. so, basically texting. Now she has ruined it for all of us.
 

wolfshades

macrumors 6502
Nov 1, 2007
438
554
Toronto, Ontario Canada
Do we have an actual video of this, or do we have the testimony of one flawed human being against another’s and that’s all?
In my experience, the judge always chooses to believe the police officer over the dirty rotten miscreant being brought before him. /s

The only way that changes is when the defendant has proof the cop is lying. Even then it’s iffy.
 
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twistedpixel8

macrumors 6502
Jun 9, 2017
369
1,059
I HATE being behind people like this at stoplights as they sit there 5 seconds after it turns green. You can see them looking down. At my city light in the morning there's a very long line of traffic and many people that could have gone through get stuck for another cycle.
What if they’re lost and don’t want to do something silly so they’re checking their map before they go through the junction? It happens. I’m a new driver and I do it sometimes. Takes a while to get used to the delay in GPS nav systems. I’d rather someone in front checked their map before they move off rather than swerve into me as I pass.
 

danielchow

macrumors member
Aug 11, 2008
60
14
Philadelphia, PA
The source article never mentioned how many seconds: “The officer testified he saw her looking up and down about four times, court heard.” Where did the 20 seconds come from?

It only takes a split second of distraction for an accident to happen while controlling a moving vehicle — distractions such as fiddling with a watch, phone, addressing someone or something in the backseat, or having a meal while driving. Especially at several miles per hour and good luck to you and everyone else while driving at highway speeds

But in this case her car was safely stopped at the light and only delayed a few seconds when the light changed. There was no mention of the seconds it took for her to drive after the light changed.

The officer claimed that she looked at her watch four times. Maybe the judge and the campus officer were New York City drivers, so barely half a second delay is way too long, honk-honk-HONK!

I think the argument should have been about how long she delayed before she began driving after the light changed and not about glancing at her watch because drivers also have to glance at their dashboard while their car is safely stopped at a light or even while their car is in motion.
 
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itcomesinwaves

macrumors member
Jul 2, 2003
74
6
If it distracted her enough to miss the light, sounds fine to me. These days it’s not that hard to tell when someone is distracted by their phone while driving. You can see their head tilted down and to the center of the car at the phone. On the highway they will suddenly diengage from the speed of traffic and then snap back after a minute. On the street they will space out green lights. Everyone who commutes sees it every day. The problem is most people are also guilty of it from time to time. The only way to cut back this behavior is to start stepping up ticketting, and make it known that cops will jump at the opportunity to get you for it.
 

sik08amg

macrumors regular
Feb 19, 2012
202
24
Tampa, FL
Well you can’t shazam 4 songs in 20 seconds, and outside of a text message, I can’t think of a reason to glance at your watch 4 times in 20 seconds.
 

Bruce Patterson

macrumors regular
Jan 3, 2007
145
102
Winter Park, Florida
Right there in the first paragraph.
[doublepost=1528026270][/doublepost]
Distracted driving is more dangerous than drunk driving. Driving while eletronically distracted is the same as having four drinks and getting behind the wheel. Distracted driving is increasing while drunk driving is decreasing, and anti-distraction laws are already hard enough to enforce. Cops should ticket it whenever they see it. I’m sure you’d say the same if a member of your family was run over by a texting driver. Rather than attack the officer who did his job, I’ll say that the problem is that distracted driving laws aren’t enforced enough.
Clearly the cop assumed otherwise.
[doublepost=1528032801][/doublepost]What about being distracted by the oversized and unnecessary soda you got at a drive-thru. Isn’t that distracting? :)
 
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jchap

macrumors member
Sep 25, 2009
96
142
The purpose of being behind that wheel is to drive. Not to check your messages, or even the time (which is obviously easy to do with most all vehicles just by glancing forward at the dashboard), but to drive. The safety of yourself, the passengers in your car whose lives you hold in your hands, and the other people who share the road with you depends on your awareness, your judgement, your skill and ability to handle your vehicle properly and to make decisions in case of unusual circumstances.

If you want to make excuses as to why you should be allowed to use your communication and information devices at all while you are behind the wheel and especially while the vehicle is in motion, you do not belong behind the wheel. I have made a few mistakes in my lifetime when looking down at a map or at my iPad while driving, and I could have lived to regret it if the circumstances were less favorable. I regret those situations now, and I have learned from them. I just hope that other people do not have to pay for similar mistakes with their lives.
 
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