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Woman fined for distracted driving after looking at her Apple Watch

A screen is a screen, whether it's on your wrist or in your hand.


Christina Bonnington


Published Jun 4, 2018   Updated May 21, 2021, 2:22 pm CDT

Distracted driving laws don’t just apply to smartphones: If you’re staring a bit too long at your smartwatch, you could find yourself in trouble, too, as one Canadian driver found out.

The woman, Victoria Ambrose, was caught by a police officer stopped next to her at a traffic light in April. He had noticed the glow of an electronic device and watched her look up and down from her wrist about four times. She didn’t notice that the light turned green until the cop shined a light into her vehicle. Shortly after, he pulled her over and gave her a ticket.

When Ambrose went to court, the judge said that the Apple Watch was not any safer than “a cellphone taped to someone’s wrist.” He concluded that because it is a connected communications device that can send and receive data electronically, it fell under the province’s distracted driving law, which covers handheld wireless communication devices. However, it was the officer’s testimony about how she was interacting with the device that was the biggest determining factor of being distracted in this case. Ambrose ended up receiving a $400 fine.


According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving was responsible for 3,450 deaths in 2016. Most states now have some degree of bans on handheld cellphone use by drivers.

Smartphone makers such as Apple have taken steps to curb the issue. With iOS 11 for example, it introduced a Do Not Disturb While Driving mode to reduce distracting messages and notifications for drivers.

H/T National Post

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*First Published: Jun 4, 2018, 12:03 pm CDT