Australian Police: Expect Fines If You Use Your Smartwatch While Driving

Australian Police: Expect Fines If You Use Your Smartwatch While Driving

While it likely won’t get to the extreme point of having to remove one’s smartwatch to drive, state police plan to classify such devices as potential distractions, in the same league as your mobile phone or GPS, with all the associated fines and penalties.

This post was originally published on Gizmodo Australia.

It can be argued glancing at one’s wrist is less complicated than holding (and concentrating) on a phone, but this won’t get you very far with police in NSW or Victoria, according to Ben Grubb over at the Sydney Morning Herald.

In statements to the paper, the aforementioned enforcement organisations made it clear that while driving, using your watch in the same capacity as your mobile will almost certainly get you in trouble:

“Driving is a complex task that requires full concentration and it’s essential that drivers minimise the risk of distraction in their vehicle,” Victoria Police said in a statement to Fairfax Media. “Anyone caught using mobile phones, GPS or other electronic devices while driving could face penalties.”

The article goes on to say that Victorian drivers should be right to keep their watches on while at the wheel, though interestingly, NSW Police didn’t immediately answer the question, other than to say that “it is important that drivers are not distracted by any device”.

Maybe if you just whack it around your neck instead? Or the gear-shift? I suppose that defeats the purpose.

Smartwatch-wearing drivers may be fined [SMH]


  • Why don’t you get pinged for using a CB radio ???? Besides the fact that the cops would then be stuffed too.

    • Police are exempt from the laws regarding use of phones and radios while driving. It is an offence to use a cb while driving. If they see you they will fine you, same as a mobile phone

    • Because the use of CB radio is not against the law.

      The police are explicitly exempt from many of these laws, in many instances they’re legally allowed to use mobile phones while driving too.

      • There is no offence to using a mobile phone under Road Rule 300 (1) if – (d) the vehicle is an emergency vehicle, enforcement vehicle or a police vehicle.

        So all emergency services are except at all times.

  • There is hardly any action from the police whilst people are using a mobile phone whilst driving. How are they (boys and girls in blue) even going to distinguish the difference between a person looking at the time or using his watch. All a joke….

    • …and you’d better not be found wearing a smartwatch if you ever get in an accident, coz that case is going to close itself quick smart. That’s all i have to say about that.

  • I’m good with these kinds of rules. My general approach to viewing rules about what is OK while driving goes like this : if you wouldn’t be comfortable letting a person do whatever the ‘don’t do while driving’ activity while walking through a crowded room full of your loved ones while carrying a chainsaw running at full tilt, then there’s probably a good reason why you shouldn’t let them control a few tonnes of car at +60k doing the same. Not an elegant analogy – but graphic.

    • I agree for the most part but I always struggle with these rules because they’re usually about finding the worst possible drivers and then treating everyone else as if they were that bad. Frankly if you can’t send a SMS while driving you probably shouldn’t have been given a full license in the first place. If you’re under 80 using a phone should not be hard enough to cause a distraction. Even simply being able to judge when you’re too distracted and need to put the phone down or pull over is a very basic skill literally every driver should have.

      • It is a really simple matter. Just leave the phone alone or pull over if you need to answer it. I am sure the young bloke who rear ended a friend on his motorcycle and put him in a wheel chair for the rest of his life believed he had that refined judgement you refer to.

        Someone’s life is now ruined/drastically altered because someone else had to check their Facebook or reply to a text, an avoidable tragedy.

      • You’re having a laugh, surely? How can you send a text and watch the road? It’s not possible. Even trying is taking a needless risk. Why can’t you wait until you’ve finished your journey or pull over?

        • How can you not? Do you pull over every time you need to change the radio station, look at a map or check the petrol gauge? It’s not hard to watch two things at once. I don’t do it myself because it’s not worth getting in trouble over but it seems crazy to me that people who are constantly on the verge of losing all situational awareness have been issued licenses to drive.
          It’s not about a desire to use my phone while driving, I don’t respond to e-mails on my phone regardless of when and where I get them so it really doesn’t impact my everyday life, it’s about having the basic skills required to operate a vehicle. There are plenty of unavoidable situations where you’re not going to be able to focus 100% on the road. If you can’t send a message while driving then you can’t drive well enough to reliably deal with those situations.
          If anything we should be teaching new drivers to use their phone while they’re on their L/P plates. It’s only a matter of time before they have some screaming kid in the car, get stuck as the designated driver or have a stressful day at work and splitting focus to use a phone is a good way of testing how well they can drive under those conditions. To me it seems like banning driving in the rain just because some drivers don’t get enough practice and there’s nothing on the test to ensure that you can do it to an acceptable level.

  • Also, expect to be mocked mercilessly by said police officers. And pretty much everyone else.

  • So how will they determine a smart watch from a regular old analog watch? What if it’s a digital watch? That’s electronic isnt it?

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