The new Apple Watch was unveiled Tuesday. Police see it as a potential new source of driver distraction.

Rise of wearable tech raises distracted driving fears

B.C. could widen distracted driving law if it fails to capture Apple Watch, Google Glass

The rollout of the new Apple Watch has police and provincial officials monitoring whether B.C.’s distracted driving law is broad enough to bust drivers who use new wearable technology.

“We haven’t seen anyone using Google Glass or other wearable electronics yet, but I think it will only be a matter time before we start seeing it more frequently, especially as new products enter the market,” Delta Police Acting Sgt. Sarah Swallow said.

“It will be something we need to monitor,” she said. “These things are only going to get more and more popular.”

Apple’s smart watch was unveiled Tuesday along with new iPhones and the device will allow users to read and send texts, among many other functions.

Swallow is concerned the use of smart watches may not be covered under  the sections of B.C.’s distracted driving law that ban the use of handheld electronics.

“Something like a watch that is designed to be used on your wrist or Google Glass – they’re not designed as handheld electronic devices.”

There’s also a section of the law that bans drivers from using any electronic device, not just handheld ones, to send or receive email or texts, but that covers just two of the functions of the new gadgets.

Police can also use the Motor Vehicle Act section against driving without due care and attention but, unlike the distracted driving law, officers must see evidence of risky driving to issue the $368 fine and six penalty points.

Police have long had that ability to fine drivers who swerve while they adjust stereos, juggle a hot cup of coffee or scold children in the backseat, but the $167 distracted driving fines have been used much more frequently since their 2010 introduction.

Sam MacLeod, B.C.’s Superintendent of Motor Vehicles, said his office believes the current distracted driving law is broad enough to capture Google Glass or smart watches, but added the definition of prohibited devices could be expanded if needed.

“We will continue to monitor the effectiveness of our legislation against these new technologies and will make changes if needed,” MacLeod said. “We are obviously concerned about the development of any technology that could distract drivers from focusing on the road and the task of driving.”

ICBC last month blamed crashes caused by distracted drivers as one factor for a proposed 5.2 per cent increase in basic insurance rates.

On average, 30 people a year are killed in distracted driving crashes in the Lower Mainland, and 88 province-wide.

It’s the second leading cause of car fatalities after speed and now is narrowly ahead of impaired driving.

“It’s still unfortunately all around us,” Swallow said. “It’s like impaired driving was 20 years ago. It’s going to take a major mindset shift for people to put the phone down and realize this is a killer.”

Police have stepped up enforcement this month as part of a new campaign against distracted driving.

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Sasquatch Days about ‘being proud of being Sts’ailes’

The joint event between Harrison and Sts’ailes returned to the village for its eighth year

‘This was my baby’: Music teacher to retire after 29 years at Kent Elementary

Brenda Di Rezze will be saying goodbye to her music room at the end of this school year

LETTER: Harrison needs trees, not a new parking lot

Harrison resident Janne Perrin reminds council that trees are important too

UPDATE: Two young Chilliwack men facing at least five years jail for armed robbery

Darius Commodore and Jaimal Mclaren face 13 charges in Mission/Agassiz incident involving police dog

Harrison pay parking begins Saturday

Drivers will be charged an hourly rate for their parking spots from June 15 to Sept. 15

VIDEO: Reading splashes into Agassiz’s Ferny Coombe Pool

The Agassiz Library held its annual Reading in the Pool event Friday, June 14

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

Pride flag taken down by Township of Langley

Woman said she was told it was removed from her front yard because of a complaint

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

Cyclists competing in one of the toughest bike races on the planet pass through Fernie

Divide riders looking strong as they finish first leg of 4160 km race

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

Most Read