Smartwatches and Distracted Driving Laws in Arkansas

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One of the newest and hottest trends in technology in recent months has been the smartwatch. It seems with each passing month a new brand and model of these mobile devices are released onto the market, and with each model comes newer, faster, and more exciting features. However, these devices present a problem for drivers on the road.

While they may be “hands-free,” smartwatches are electronic devices that distract drivers and still require that a driver takes their hands off the wheel to activate the screen. It is well-known that using a cell phone or texting while driving can lead to an accident, and in many states it is illegal for drivers to be on their phone or texting while driving. With the release and meteoric rise of the smartwatch, how will the law compensate for this new technology?

If you have been injured in a car accident because a driver was texting on their phone or using a smartwatch contact an experienced Fayetteville AR personal injury lawyer today. To schedule a confidential legal consultation, call the Law Practice of Ken Kieklak offices right away at (479) 316-0438. You only have a limited time to file a claim following an accident, so don’t wait until it’s too late and the deadlines have already passed. Call us today to get started exploring your options.

Smartwatches Can Distract Just as Much as Phones or Even Worse

According to reports and statistics published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 424,000 people injured in accidents caused by distracted drivers in 2013. A large percentage of these accidents were caused by drivers texting on their mobile phones and surfing the internet while driving.  In fact, the Arkansas State Police said that most traffic accidents are caused by distracted driving whether it’s changing radio stations or even while checking emails, sending a text or checking Facebook.

The problem and dangers that smartwatches pose to drivers are very similar to the dangers posed by driving and texting.  Reports indicate that looking at your phone to receive or respond to a text message generally requires motorists to look away from the road for approximately 5 seconds. While this may not seem like a lot of time, consider that at a speed of fifty-five miles an hour looking away from the road for five seconds is the equivalent of traveling the full length of a football field. Therefore, it is easy to see why accidents are more likely to happen when the driver is not paying attention. Most smartwatches are equipped to receive and send text messages and have many of the same capabilities of a mobile phone albeit with a smaller screen.  However, unlike a cell phone which can be easily stored away in a bag or in a glove compartment, most smartwatch owners are not willing to take their devices off every time they get into the car.  In addition, because it is attached to the user the temptation to respond to every vibration, beep, or buzz is just too great for many drivers. Smartwatches are also different from mobile phones in that they require both hands to use. One hand is utilized by wearing the smartwatch, and the other hand is utilized to operate the watch. In addition, users will commonly rotate their wrist to have a better view of the screen. This means that in some instances smartwatch users would take both their hands off of the wheel in order to operate their devices.

Is It Legal to Use a Smartwatch While Driving in Arkansas?

Over the past decade, most states have enacted some version of a law that prohibits drivers from using their cell phones while they are driving. While no state has a complete ban on cellphone use, acknowledging that using wireless headphone devices can greatly reduce the risk of being in an accident, most if not all have a ban on texting while driving.  As of October 2016, Currently, 46 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers, and all but five of these states have concluded that this is a primary enforcement offense, which means that a police officer can pull over a driver that they determine is texting while driving.

Section 27-51-1504 of the Arkansas Code also known as Paul’s law makes it impermissible for  a driver to use a handheld wireless telephone for wireless interactive communication while operating a motor vehicle. In addition, drivers are also not permitted to use their cell phones while driving in school zones as well as in highway work zones. All drivers in the state are prohibited from text messaging. The Arkansas legislature has determined that texting and driving fall under primary enforcement. This means that if a police officer observes you while texting and driving, they can pull you over even if you have not violated any other traffic offense.

While the law was designed to address texting on a cell phone, it is obvious that the intent of the law was to prevent drivers from texting or surfing on any device while they are driving. This means that if you are caught using your smartwatch to send or receive text messages a police officer may pull you over and issue you a citation for distracted driving. A driver who violates the rules of the road and texts on their phone and arguably on their smartwatch could face a fine of up to $100

Let an Arkansas Attorney at Law Handle Your Car Accident

If you have suffered a serious injury be sure to seek medical attention immediately. To schedule your free and confidential consultation with a Fayettville personal injury lawyer, call the Law Practice of Ken Kieklak at (479) 316-0438 or contact our firm online.

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