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Man fined $120 for using Apple Watch while driving
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May 28, 2015, 07:43 PM
 
A man in Quebec, Canada has been ticketed with a potential fine of $120 for using his Apple Watch to manually change songs remotely on his nearby iPhone, sparking a debate about whether the Watch can be as distracting as the smartphone it ostensibly replaces in such situations, and opening a discussion about the nature of "no handheld devices while driving" laws which are widespread throughout North America. Defendant Jeffrey Macesin, who admits the case will clarify the existing law, is contesting the citation.

The law in Quebec forbids the use of a "hand-held device that includes a telephone function" while operating a vehicle. Though the Apple Watch is not "hand-held," it is similar to the iPhone in that some functions require the driver to take their eyes off the road to use it. The Watch is also not, in and of itself, capable of making telephone calls without an attendant iPhone, so technically does not qualify as a telephone -- but is often used as a remote front-end for the telephony technology of the iPhone.

In addition to the $120 fine, Macesin is subject to up to four license points if convicted. He does not dispute the facts of the case, that he was pulled over for using the Watch to manually change songs on a linked iPhone that was connected to his vehicle's audio system, but says the wording of the law means that he was not -- at least technically -- violating it. ""It's not so much handheld. It's a watch," Macesin said. "You know, it's on my wrist. That's where it gets controversial. It's like, 'Is it? Is it not?' but I think this needs to be talked about."

Advocates for driving safety say that both the Apple Watch and the iPhone -- along with all other similar devices -- constitute a hazard while driving due to their ability to distract the driver. Even the feature of the Apple Watch that gently taps the user on the wrist for notifications tempts the driver to look away from driving and towards the Watch, creating a safety risk while in motion.

Critics have pointed out that Macesin could have employed the "Hey Siri" functionality of the Watch to change songs without taking his eyes off the road, which would have avoided his particular citation. However, the issue of how drivers may legally interact with devices like the Apple Watch (or Pebble Time, or Moto 360, et al) may need to be clarified from the original language aimed at smartphones, enforcement of which has already been largely ineffective.

Drivers like Macesin are clearly in violation of the spirit of the law, if not the exact language of the statue. Apple has developed its own CarPlay technology to help drivers avoid taking their eyes off the road through greater implementation of Siri as well as other non-visual cues, but most vehicles' complex infotainment systems are still often an obstacle to full driver concentration on driving. Likewise, Google and BlackBerry have both developed similar car technology to allow drivers to dictate commands or messages, listen to emails or other audio, and employ navigational and other programs while driving.
     
sidewaysdesign
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May 28, 2015, 09:05 PM
 
I hope the fellow wins only for the sake of making the law clearer.

However, unless he was using voice-only functions, whether the Watch is considered "handheld" or not, you do have to bring your hands together to do most functions when wearing it, which doesn't seem like a good idea while driving (not to mention the smaller screen).

One wonders what his driving was like for the police to have taken notice of his actions.
     
davoud
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May 28, 2015, 09:43 PM
 
Sparking a debate? There is no debate. The debate is over, the results are in and certified. Operating any device that takes one's attention from the task of driving, which requires 100% of one's attention at all times, is dangerous. The fine should probably be a bit stiffer as a deterrent.
     
climacs
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May 28, 2015, 09:57 PM
 
I hope they are enforcing this uniformly rather than just because someone got spotted with one of them new-fangled Apple Watch things. I see plenty of drivers all the time texting or otherwise ****ing with their phones while driving.
     
Atheist
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May 28, 2015, 10:44 PM
 
Originally Posted by davoud View Post
Sparking a debate? There is no debate. The debate is over, the results are in and certified. Operating any device that takes one's attention from the task of driving, which requires 100% of one's attention at all times, is dangerous. The fine should probably be a bit stiffer as a deterrent.
You're right. Anyone changing the radio station or adjusting the A/C controls should probably be arrested. For that matter, they should just remove everything but the gas and brake pedal, the steering wheel, and the speedometer. Take away all distractions.
     
AlbertM
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May 28, 2015, 11:26 PM
 
Not the same thing. Physical buttons can be used while keeping your eyes on the road all the time. I can switch channel, A/C and volume just with my right hand and keep my eyes on the road. Just like most people.

You have no sensations with handheld device, which require you to look at their screen.
     
And.reg
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May 28, 2015, 11:37 PM
 
It's truly a miracle that thousands of people can eat and drive through city traffic without causing an accident given that their McD's hamburger needs more ketchup, there's one more fry in the bag, younger sibling in the back is throwing up, GPS says "turn right" and you're in the left lane, etc. etc. etc. Some people are naturally extroverted enough that this level of distraction is their comfort zone and so actually have better driving skills than people who are introverted if substituted into the same environment.

I understand the principle behind getting a ticket for what your car appears to do from the outside (e.g., speeding, swerving in and out of the lane), or even having someone witness it and then report it, but when drivers start getting ticketed for being witnessed about what they do inside their own vehicle... that's borderline privacy invasion. Our cars are our PERSONAL means of transportation. We should not have authoritative figures snooping through our windows to see what we do with our watches, phones, or hamburgers...otherwise, we might as well be monitored inside of our own vehicles on camera, and then farewell privacy.

People text while they drive, which I think can become very unsafe, so if you want people to break these habits of being distracted, well, they have to choose to want to do that on their own.
     
jmonty12
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May 29, 2015, 02:11 AM
 
I've done exactly the same thing (using the Apple Watch to change music on my iPhone while driving.) And you know what? It is too distracting. You have to look and your hands have to be close together, which is not a natural posture while driving safely. I don't plan to do it again. I do have to ask though, why was this dummy doing it while a cop could see what he was doing? Doing that AND being unaware of the cop proves it is too distracting.
     
Inkling
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May 29, 2015, 07:13 AM
 
I fail to see why tapping the screen of an Apple Watch should be a crime with a hefty fine while hitting the next-song button on a CD player mounted in the dash is not. I've had car radios that were clumsier to use and more distracting that any "handheld device." If the legal system wants to go after driver distractions, they should at least do so even-handedly. In this case they look like cranks who equate new with bad.
Author of Untangling Tolkien and Chesterton on War and Peace
     
mt11
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May 29, 2015, 08:02 AM
 
This has nothing to do with safety. I used to live there. In Quebec, the police dept is so financially strapped that they have gone way and above the call of duty to pick on the most retarded things in order to steal money from everyday drivers. They lie, and abuse their power on a daily basis in order to meet their monthly quotes. They're nothing more than tax collectors for the city. In terms of actual police work, its a farce. I hope this guy wins his court case to set a precedence once and for all.
     
pottymouth
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May 29, 2015, 09:03 AM
 
Originally Posted by Inkling View Post
If the legal system wants to go after driver distractions, they should at least do so even-handedly. In this case they look like cranks who equate new with bad.
Agreed. Also, my steering wheel is a handheld device and I can use it to make phone calls.

Has anybody here tried to use "Hey, Siri..." in a car with the windows down? I've not had any luck with that.
     
And.reg
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May 29, 2015, 09:09 AM
 
Originally Posted by pottymouth View Post
Has anybody here tried to use "Hey, Siri..." in a car with the windows down? I've not had any luck with that.
Same here, I tried that once on spring break... she wouldn't flash me.
     
davoud
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May 29, 2015, 04:48 PM
 
And.reg thinks it's OK to present a danger to public safety so long as you do it from the "privacy" of your car. I assume that includes drive-by shootings as well as the dangerous use of electronic or mechanical devices. And eating. I beg to differ. It's the safety of my family that is at stake. I own the road--I bought and paid for it--and I have the right to dictate how you must behave in your car when you're on my road. Now, if you want to sit in your car in your driveway and play with your toys, be my guest.
     
chimaera
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May 29, 2015, 08:49 PM
 
I also bought and paid for the road with my taxes. However, when people disagree with laws, successively raising the fines until 0% violate the law ... doesn't work well. It hasn't stamped out cell use on the road, any more than the drug laws worked, or abstinence took over in high schools. It's sorta-worked with smoking.

disclaimer: I don't own a Watch.
     
davoud
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May 29, 2015, 09:34 PM
 
And.reg thinks it's OK to present a danger to public safety so long as you do it from the "privacy" of your car. I assume that includes drive-by shootings as well as the dangerous use of electronic or mechanical devices. And eating. I beg to differ. It's the safety of my family that is at stake. I own the road--I bought and paid for it--and I have the right to dictate how you must behave in your car when you're on my road. Now, if you want to sit in your car in your driveway and play with your toys, be my guest.
     
And.reg
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May 30, 2015, 12:02 AM
 
Originally Posted by davoud View Post
And.reg thinks it's OK to present a danger to public safety
No I don't.
     
   
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