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

Highway 7 down to one-lane alternating as crews fight Mt. Hicks wildfire

150-hectare blaze prompted closure of a provincial park

Night patrol on Chilliwack waters leads DFO to seize 48 sockeye and harbour seal from poachers

Charges pending after two poachers arrested for fishing at night

WATCH: Recruitment set to start for the Molson Coors Brewery at Chilliwack

There were about 1,000 jobs during the construction phase and some staff now being sought

Chilliwack goes cluck-cluck for chickens ahead of civic election

With an election in sight, urban chickens supporters ramp up their efforts for legal acceptance

Wildfire smoke brings in air quality advisory for Lower Mainland

People with health conditions are urged to avoid the outdoors

Average Canadian family spends 43% of income on taxes: study

Fraser Institute’s consumer report shows taxes accounting for larger chunk of income each year

RCMP to search for body after man drowns in B.C.’s Buntzen Lake

Officers and fire crews responded but the man from the Lower Mainland is believed to have drowned.

Police chiefs call for stricter controls on pill presses to fight opioids

Canada’s police chiefs are urging Ottawa to beef up its fight against the opioid scourge by closely vetting people who import pill presses

Hot, dry conditions forces drought rating to highest level on Vancouver Island

The province says Vancouver Island is under Stage 4 drought conditions

Victoria police say explicit calls continue to target women

Over 50 reports of unwanted, sexually explicit calls have come in

‘It’s like a party in your mouth’

B.C. creator’s Milkshake Burger makes its debut at the PNE

Get involved in the Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count

Environmental organization develops app to help with the nationwide count

Pesticides linked to bee deaths will be phased out in Canada, sources say

Neonicotinoids, or neonics, are a class of pesticides used by farmers and hobby gardeners alike

Most Read