Man fined $120 for using Apple Watch while driving

“Jeffrey Macesin received a $120 ticket and four demerit points after he was pulled over by the Surete du Quebec for wearing a smartwatch,” CTV Montreal reports. “Macesin said he was shocked when he was pulled over because he didn’t think he was breaking the law.”

“The self-described gadget lover said he thought he was permitted to watch his new Apple Watch while driving, so long as he wasn’t tapping away on his smartphone,” CTV Montreal reports. “‘I have it in the bag charging while the auxiliary cable is plugged in to the radio and this controls my phone to play the music. So I was changing songs with my hand on the steering wheel,’ said Macesin, who was leaving Pincourt heading to Highway 20.”

“Macesin was pulled over and slapped with the ticket under Section 439.1 of the Quebec Highway Safety Code that reads: ‘No person may, while driving a road vehicle, use a hand-held device that includes a telephone function,'” CTV Montreal reports. “Lawyer Avi Levy specializes in fighting cases involving traffic violations. ‘I’m not convinced that the Apple Watch itself is a phone. It’s rather a Bluetooth device that communicates a telephone signal from the phone and it has been established in the law that you’re allowed to use Bluetooth devices and it doesn’t constitute an infraction,’ he said.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: New laws will need to be written, that much is sure. Currently, any even halfway decent lawyer should be able to raher quickly and decisively prove that an Apple Watch is akin to a Bluetooth earpiece strapped to your wrist, not a phone. As far as using Apple Watch as a remote to change songs, is it illegal to use your car stereo’s or steering wheel’s buttons to change songs?

We will restate what we wrote earlier this month in response to Walt Mossberg’s Apple Watch review: Mossberg’s advice to resist the temptation to use the Watch while driving (beyond navigation of course) is a good one: “If you buy any smartwatch, be prepared to be more careful on the road.” We’ve found that to be very true.

SEE ALSO:

Aussie police say Apple Watch is a mobile phone, should not be used by drivers – April 24, 2015

54 Comments

  1. MDN, your take on this story is ridiculous. No driver of a moving vehicle should be looking at anything but the road while driving. Period. This issue, of course, pertains to anything that distracts the driver’s eyes from the road—including those fancy screens that are now found in more and more cars. While driving a car, anything more than a quick glance at any device or screen is absurdly dangerous and should be punished with the stiffest of penalties.

      1. With buttons and knobs you don’t really need to take your eyes off the road. This is what I don’t like about a lot of touch screens (including the Apple TV remote app on iPhone), with physical buttons you can combine muscle memory with feeling for them to not even have to look. If touch screen was so good why do Mac still have keyboards?

    1. Probably the most distracting object to drivers is a passenger, especially a small child or a nag in the back seat, but I don’t think we’ll be seeing any laws prohibiting them at any time soon.

        1. Ditto. A few years ago, I got three tickets and a warning in a single year, all with family in the car. This, in spite of the fact that I drove many, many times more solo miles that year.

    2. What a fiasco. Leave it to the idiots among society not to understand technology. A button on a steering wheel is OK but not a button (that is even more accessible) on a wrist. Many a time I am turning the wheel and the button on the wheel is turning to somewhere where it normally isn’t. Leading to much more confusion than a button that you know is ALWAYS on your wrist. But somehow these morons in our society are OK with a button on a steering wheel and up in arms for a button on your wrist.

      1. Ummmm, who’s the idiot?

        The button on the steering wheel does not need the eyes to leave the road. Can you say the same about the watch? Is it truly eyes-free, or do you need to navigate to the correct screen before the music controls become available? Plus, the position of your hands would be quite awkwardly close together, when both hands should remain at “10am” and “2pm” on the wheel. Oh wait, you’re one of those drivers that “will never get into an accident because you’re better than the rest on the road, right?” It’s drivers with that attitude that actually cause accidents and road rage.

        Why would you be pressing buttons on the steering while in the middle of a turn? Shouldn’t you be focused on turning?

    3. MDN:

      Your comment is absurd saying the Apple Watch is akin to a bluetooth earpiece. That’s ridiculous. It’s nothing of the sort. It’s NOT a bluetooth earpiece just like a tree isn’t a car. They’re not even in the same universe:

      The Apple Watch:

      -Has a touch screen;
      -The Watch has mobile Apps, just like an iPhone/smartphone;
      -The Watch can send and receive text messages;
      -The Watch can receive and dial out phone calls; and
      -The Watch requires that you effectively look at it while interacting with it, just like an iPhone/smartphone.

      It’s IRRELEVANT that it’s an accessory to an iPhone. Your iPhone is mapped over to the little screen and it functions effectively just like an iPhone. In this way, it’s like a smartphone on its own and that’s the problem. I do not want drivers distracted anymore than they already are.

      Various transport departments and police have done studies and there’s a reason why the laws are what they are. Smartphones are incredibly distracting to people because they require so much interaction and do two way communications. The psychology of the person and the way a person uses these things is much different compared to using console controls. The level of engagement is much more pronounced with these devices. People get swept up in them for longer streams of time compared to console controls. When you go and switch a few switches on the console it happens in split seconds and you don’t focus on it really at all. You know where the control is and you’re not having a conversation with these inputs. They’re myopic controls. And in a lot of cases you don’t even take your eye off the road like when using power window controls. You have a sense of where all this stuff is in the cockpit of a vehicle and interacting with a lot of these controls is farily instantenous.

      Touch communication devices are not like this world at all. They require sustained interaction and focus on them for much longer periods of time and the communications aspects of them causes numerous fatalities each year.

      I’m not saying driving with a burger and fries in your hands is good either. But talking about other distractions in a vehicle does not invalidate how distracting these devices are. They are. And the laws are good. I want safety on the roads.

      1. First fight the ticket.
        Second how can anyone possibly prove that he was not looking at the time on his watch. There is no time limit on how long you can look at you watch.
        Third if he had a regular watch and was winding it up do you get a ticket.
        Granted he probably was using it as intended and was scrolling and reading things but this ticket was unnecessary.
        Apple should pay the ticket. Or help this person fight the ticker with the letter of the law.

        1. bob:

          The law was breached. He’s not allowed to use that device in the car. Period. That’s the law.

          Second, regarding knowing whether he was using the device other than telling the time. First, this won’t matter because the device is banned for use in a car. But second, there’s a prima facie case that he was interacting with it other than telling the time. If he wants to fight it, he’ll have to testify that he wasn’t using his watch AT ALL. Then he can be cross examined by the prosecution…

          And there is a time limit on how long you can look at a watch, etc. The law is clear where it covers things in a more general sense like dangerous driving, lack of due diligence, etc. Liability attaches across the board.

          1. The device is a watch. Are you trying to tell me he can’t use a watch? No.
            And other watches have functions in them, like, alarms, calendars, timers, so don’t give that.
            I doubt there is any place in the free world where you can’t use a watch in a car.
            Unless this officer was hanging on the car door, it’s going to be hard to prove… but wait, there is no law against using a watch in a car.
            The device you write of is a watch. He was not texting, he was using it as a telephone, why? Because it’s a watch.
            Are you also telling me, wherever these laws exist, the driver can’t change the radio station in their car.
            No, the officer instead of making news should have used better judgement. But that’s ok, that’s what the courts are for. It’s better to let a judge decide. That judge will have to say that’s it not a watch. Now, you can see class actions file against these companies for misrepresenting their products.
            This should be good, especially in the UK.
            Oh, what a kettle of fish, over a watch.
            Oh, the price of liberty, and I don’t even like the thing, but,yes, we must stand up for such things, as justice, freedom, liberty, and yes the law, even if it’s as bad as Dftr would have us believe it is… you know… you can’t use a watch while driving.

            1. Bob:

              Stop embarassing yourself. The Apple Watch is not a “watch”. It’s a touch screen computer on ur wrist. Period. That’s the reality. No, u r not allowedto use that device in a motor vehicle in pretty much any province in Canada. I actually consult for people in my spare time fighting traffic tickets in court. I know the laws on this.

              What people need to do is go handsfree in the car and use voice “Hey Siri”. The Apple Watch is NOT NEEDED in the car. It’s redundant and dangerous. A total waste. I agree with the law even though I fight it a lot. But in this case it’s good to punish people using these devices to mitigate distractions and fatalities.

            2. Dftr:

              You’re not the manufacturer. The manufacture calls it a watch,the industry calls it a watch, it’s compared to Swiss’ finest watches. NO Dftr, stop consulting, you can’t be good at it. Really.
              It’s primary usage is to tell time.
              It is your opinion that’s,”It’s a touch screen computer on u r wrist.” I say it’s a watch, with other functions. Many digital watches have microchips. So, on this watch you touch it’s face instead of buttons on the side. Stop consulting.
              Let’s let a court rule that it’s not what the manufacturer says it is. Then let’s enjoy the lawsuits that are sure to follow.
              The UK is tough on people, and companies making claims of products that are fraudulent, but you must know that.
              I’m glad you have informed us that Canada does not allow one to use a watch while driving.
              Needed? No, but a cell phone is not needed either.

            3. Dftr:

              You are clearly upset over not knowing what you are talking about.
              Using your logic a microwave oven is really a computer that sets on your countertop. You’re such dumb Son of a Gun.
              Are you against a manufacturer of a product naming it, are you against them placing it in a certain category of products, who the heck are you to tell anyone what it is. Do you not get the fact that it’s a time piece with other functionality.
              Don’t be mad because the extent of your knowledge is so limited. Ask somebody? Don’t remain ignorant. Apparent you don’t know much about digital watches that have other functions then just telling time. It’s ok.
              Think of it like your stupid kids, you get to name them, but when they go to school they may get a nickname. People like your want tell others who they are really, so you give that nickname. But, having a nickname makes them no less then your stupid kid, with the name you gave them.
              JackAss is perhaps fitting for you. Child of The Jack-Ass would probably fit for them, CoTJA. But maybe people will call them Dftr Jr.
              Better luck in court, well, to the people you consult to/for, cause they are going to jail over a watch.
              I wrote this just to return the insult you deserve it.

            4. Bob:

              A Kia Soul is no more a “soul” than an Apple Watch is a “watch”. The Apple Watch’s primary purpose is not to tell the time. It’s to augement and supplant a smartphone. It’s primary purpose is notifications, and ones typically for text messages and phone calls along with social media. It is this precise application that is banned in vehicles: that the laws were designed to protect against.

              Now shut up and stop arguing on the Internet.

    4. There is a problem with this law:

      ‘No person may, while driving a road vehicle, use a “hand-held” device that includes a telephone function,’

      The Apple Watch, like all watches is not ‘Hand-held”.
      Ie: It is not held in your hand!

      1. Don’t try and be a lawyer. Laws are written to be broad and at common law get further defined. A handheld device in the case of the law here in Canada means mobile computing devices.

  2. It is OK to tune your radio and OK to change climate controls and OK to operate window controls and OK to drink beverages and OK to eat food and OK to touch a mechanical watch but not OK to touch an Apple Watch.

    1. Everything you mentioned doesn’t require you to move your eyes from the road for more than a fraction of a second if at all to accomplish the action. Touch tech, at least for smart wearables, has not reached the level where you can properly accomplish anything without also more than glancing at it. Should have used voice. 😛

  3. What’s missing from this article is whether or not the driver showed signs of distracted driving. That really should be the basis of being ticketed. I don’t care if a driver is editing video or adjusting the air conditioner, if their activity is distracting their driving and creating an unsafe condition, they should be ticketed.

    An Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad or MacBook can be used in a way that isn’t distracting or that is distracting. If the driver is distracted, that should be the basis of the ticket.

    1. Agree with that wholeheartedly. However it may be that as a preventive action erring on the ‘safe’ side, the laws were passed to ban the distraction rather than risk an accident by discovering the distracted driving too late.

      1. Xennex1170

        “the laws were passed to ban the distraction rather than risk an accident by discovering the distracted driving too late.”

        We can easily stop ALL traffic accidents – just ban driving altogether.

        We can stop all accidents form drunk drivers – ban all sales of alcohol so that no one will ever be drunk.

        Facts – one can change the song playing with a tap on the watch without looking or at most with just a glance. One can glance at the face to see if the next turn will be right or left without undo distraction (certainly no more than glancing at a built in navigator) One can do many thing by talking into the watch without even taking one’s eye off the road.

        Yet all these things would be considered illegal – in spite of the fact that doing them with a “non-telephone” device or built in would be perfectly legal EVEN if it were more distracting.

        Something is not quite right here. Will driver be forced to remove any smartwatch before driving?

  4. Here’s a novel idea: Instead of writing new laws to cover every conceivable use case of a human operating a vehicle with every conceivable activity with any possible device invented and yet to be invented, why don’t we simply maintain the idea that people with the privilege of driving are expected to maintain control of their vehicle at all times, and will be held accountable when they don’t. Like it has always been.

    1. I completely agree. For years they had charges for careless driving and reckless driving which were, and still are, completely capable of covering all of these various distracted driving scenarios. There is no need for specific new laws which need to be constantly updated as new technologies come into play.

  5. The problem is the auto safety nazis believe that anyone driving a vehicle should be looking at the road 100% of the time. That means no changing radio stations, no monkeying around with the cabin temperature settings, don’t operate the windows, no drinks from cups in the cup holders, don’t talk on any type of mobile phone even with a bluetooth headset, don’t talk or even listen to your passenger, and don’t even fart. In other words, eyes straight ahead all the time.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I think this is a little over the top.

    1. Do what we do in Canada, where we don’t carry guns.

      If the guy next to you is driving like an idiot, get out at the next light and punch him in the head.

  6. “No person may, while driving a road vehicle, use a hand-held device that . . .”

    The Apple Watch is not a hand-held device. You don’t hold it in your hand.
    Case closed.

  7. Where I live, the concept is to stop ‘distracted driving’. Does this qualify? I’m not sure.

    Does having chattering relatives in your car also qualify as distracted driving? I’d say yes.

    Bar my ability to ever drive again with my mother-in-law in the car. PLEASE. 😉 [kidding]

      1. Billboards are banned in Hawaii. 😀 The closest you can get to billboard-esque ads here is advertising on the side of a vehicle providing transportation for commercial product (moving/shipping vehicles) or equipment used to provide remote servicing (plumbing, towing, cable company, etc.). This also outlaws vehicles that only have the purpose of advertising. City buses may not have ads on the outside surfaces.

  8. I have noticed that while driving my watch turns on all the time. I drive at night a lot, so it illuminate a lot. I guess I will get a ticket because the officer thinks I’m using my AppleWatch.

    1. The Sony Smartwatch 3 has a ‘theater mode’ feature that dims the display and mutes notifications which would have been useful in your use case.

  9. Liberty! Freedom! Down with tyranny! We should be able to text while we drive. We should be able to look deeply into the eyes of our loved ones while we drive. We should be able to watch Fast & Furious on our wrists while we drive. We should be able to drive with our eyes closed if we want to! The government is taking over our lives! No fair no fair no fair!

  10. According to the wording of their very law, the officer was in the wrong. It specifies non-use of a handheld device. The Apple Watch isn’t a handheld device.

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