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Fleets urged to revisit issue of distracted driving as smartwatch popularity rises

So says Alphabet’s fleet risk services manager Diarmuid Fahy, who adds that this dangerous practice represents a great chance to remind drivers of existing rules.

Already the Department for Transport (DfT) has confirmed that drivers caught using the technology behind the wheel will receive the same penalty as if they were using a mobile phone.

And the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has warned that their use could significantly impair driving performance – being a major cause for distraction and road accidents.

Diarmuid Fahy added: ‘Using a smartwatch while driving is senseless. To operate one would pretty much require you to take both hands off the steering wheel; this makes them even more dangerous than mobile phones, which could be used one-handed. Drivers might think that there is no specific legislation in place prohibiting their use, but the same argument was made when mobile phones first became popular, it was pointed out that laws are in place to prohibit driving without due care and attention.

‘The legislation (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2003/2695/made) describes the devices covered by the act as “A … device, other than a two-way radio, which performs an interactive communication function by transmitting and receiving data”. This obviously covers smart-watches so they are 100 per cent in scope of the law.

‘Businesses should have clear policies prohibiting this kind of activity while employees are driving on company time. This is a great chance for fleet managers to remind all drivers about the rules and guidance the organisation has in place, with a message clarifying that smartwatches should not be used while driving.’

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.