Apple Watch use at lights leads to fine for student – BBC News

A Canadian student has been fined Canadian $400 (£230, $310) for looking at her Apple smartwatch while waiting at traffic lights.
Victoria Ambrose was found guilty of breaking Ontario’s distracted driving law.
In court, Ms Ambrose said she looked at the watch to find out the time.
This claim was rejected by the judge who said smartwatches were a distraction as much as a “cellphone taped to someone’s wrist”.

Ms Ambrose got a traffic ticket in April after being seen by a police officer from the University of Guelph lingering at a red light at a junction on the campus.
In court, the police officer said Ms Ambrose did not move off when the light turned green because her attention was fixed on the watch. She only started moving when the officer shone a side light from the police cruiser at her car.

I don’t get this. The person was at a red light, and was not driving dangerously; the fact that she didn’t start driving when the light turned green shouldn’t merit a fine. How much more distracting is it that, say, using the in-car GPS when at a light, or even lighting a cigarette when driving? There’s a weird double-standard here about such things. Yes, using a cellphone is dangerous, and wrong, but if you’re at a light and need to check the time, this sounds excessive.

Source: Apple Watch use at lights leads to fine for student – BBC News

18 thoughts on “Apple Watch use at lights leads to fine for student – BBC News

  1. This is yet another example illustrating how Canadian Provinces aggressively collect taxes. Who cares that this action is no more distracting that using a GPS, changing channels on the radio, or even discussing with a passenger? Is it a common behaviour these days? Yes. Is it easy for policemen to fine it? Yes. Then let’s make it profitable!

    I am obviously being cynical, but have a look at how the Quebec Government is framing it (it is similar in Ontario, where that lady got fined):

    “Simply holding a cell phone in your hand, for any reason, while driving a road vehicle is illegal. If you are at the wheel of a road vehicle in a traffic lane, you are driving. Even when you are stopped at a red light or stuck in traffic, you are driving!”

    https://saaq.gouv.qc.ca/en/road-safety/behaviours/distractions/cell-phones-texting/what-the-law-says/

    And that’s not all. This website isn’t even up-to-date, as the newly modified stricter laws now include all ‘screens and other electronic devices in a vehicle’:

    “It is prohibited for any driver of a road vehicle, cyclist, or user of a motorized mobility aid to use a cell phone or any other portable device designed to transmit or receive information or to be used for entertainment purposes, or to use a display screen. Some exceptions are allowed. The range of fines for the driver of a road vehicle for this type of offence is now $300 to $600. In case of a repeat offence, the minimum fine is doubled. The driver is also subject to an immediate license suspension of 3, 7 or 30 days depending on whether it is a first, second or third offence within a two-year period. The number of demerit points increases from 4 to 5. Cyclists are liable to a fine of $80 to $100. Users of motorized mobility aids are liable to a fine of $30 to $60. In addition, cyclists and users of motorized mobility aids cannot wear any earphones. As for drivers of road vehicles, they can wear an earphone with only one ear.”

    https://www.transports.gouv.qc.ca/en/code-securite-routiere/Pages/csr.aspx/

    This is getting out of hand. You could now probably get fined if a policeman stops you for checking the time on a regular digital watch. Hey, it has a display screen! Ironically, car entertainment systems are now controlled by screens the size of a 10.5-inch iPad…

  2. This is yet another example illustrating how Canadian Provinces aggressively collect taxes. Who cares that this action is no more distracting that using a GPS, changing channels on the radio, or even discussing with a passenger? Is it a common behaviour these days? Yes. Is it easy for policemen to fine it? Yes. Then let’s make it profitable!

    I am obviously being cynical, but have a look at how the Quebec Government is framing it (it is similar in Ontario, where that lady got fined):

    “Simply holding a cell phone in your hand, for any reason, while driving a road vehicle is illegal. If you are at the wheel of a road vehicle in a traffic lane, you are driving. Even when you are stopped at a red light or stuck in traffic, you are driving!”

    https://saaq.gouv.qc.ca/en/road-safety/behaviours/distractions/cell-phones-texting/what-the-law-says/

    And that’s not all. This website isn’t even up-to-date, as the newly modified stricter laws now include all ‘screens and other electronic devices in a vehicle’:

    “It is prohibited for any driver of a road vehicle, cyclist, or user of a motorized mobility aid to use a cell phone or any other portable device designed to transmit or receive information or to be used for entertainment purposes, or to use a display screen. Some exceptions are allowed. The range of fines for the driver of a road vehicle for this type of offence is now $300 to $600. In case of a repeat offence, the minimum fine is doubled. The driver is also subject to an immediate license suspension of 3, 7 or 30 days depending on whether it is a first, second or third offence within a two-year period. The number of demerit points increases from 4 to 5. Cyclists are liable to a fine of $80 to $100. Users of motorized mobility aids are liable to a fine of $30 to $60. In addition, cyclists and users of motorized mobility aids cannot wear any earphones. As for drivers of road vehicles, they can wear an earphone with only one ear.”

    https://www.transports.gouv.qc.ca/en/code-securite-routiere/Pages/csr.aspx/

    This is getting out of hand. You could now probably get fined if a policeman stops you for checking the time on a regular digital watch. Hey, it has a display screen! Ironically, car entertainment systems are now controlled by screens the size of a 10.5-inch iPad…

  3. On this rare occasion, I disagree with you, Kirk.

    The lady had no right to be dealing with “electronic matters” whilst at the wheel of her car. This was proved by the fact that she failed to notice that the traffic light had changed from red to green.

    Sorry, but she wasn’t checking the time. (a) there is no clock in her car – anywhere? (b) even in the absence of a clock, checking the time on a wrist watch takes a second at most.

    No, the reality is that she was distracted by checking just about anything but the time.

    In the UK, you are not permitted to use any phone or its appendages unless you are stationary and the engine is switched off. Of course, people do it all the time because the chances of being caught are negligible; but when you are caught, the penalty (here) is 6 penalty points on your licence and £200 fine.

    And that is how it should be.

      • 12 points is an automatic disqualification from driving. So 6 points is a significant penalty; but it has to be because so many lives have been lost by selfish drivers concentrating on speaking to the the boy/girl friend or texting, sending photos whilst driving. I kid you not. People have even been driving whilst posting to Facebook. As I said before, they do it because the chances of being caught are very small. And, BTW, age and gender are irrelevant here; culprits of both genders and ages ranging from 17 to 70 have been found guilty.

        • Oh, I understand the logic, and yeah, if the total is 12, 6 just made them very vulnerable. Good, but only as long as it doesn’t get abused.

          99% chance that this girl who got fined was doing something other than checking the time, but in US and Canada, traffic fines are a way to make the govt money, so the govt’s response should be taken with a grain of salt.

  4. On this rare occasion, I disagree with you, Kirk.

    The lady had no right to be dealing with “electronic matters” whilst at the wheel of her car. This was proved by the fact that she failed to notice that the traffic light had changed from red to green.

    Sorry, but she wasn’t checking the time. (a) there is no clock in her car – anywhere? (b) even in the absence of a clock, checking the time on a wrist watch takes a second at most.

    No, the reality is that she was distracted by checking just about anything but the time.

    In the UK, you are not permitted to use any phone or its appendages unless you are stationary and the engine is switched off. Of course, people do it all the time because the chances of being caught are negligible; but when you are caught, the penalty (here) is 6 penalty points on your licence and £200 fine.

    And that is how it should be.

      • 12 points is an automatic disqualification from driving. So 6 points is a significant penalty; but it has to be because so many lives have been lost by selfish drivers concentrating on speaking to the the boy/girl friend or texting, sending photos whilst driving. I kid you not. People have even been driving whilst posting to Facebook. As I said before, they do it because the chances of being caught are very small. And, BTW, age and gender are irrelevant here; culprits of both genders and ages ranging from 17 to 70 have been found guilty.

        • Oh, I understand the logic, and yeah, if the total is 12, 6 just made them very vulnerable. Good, but only as long as it doesn’t get abused.

          99% chance that this girl who got fined was doing something other than checking the time, but in US and Canada, traffic fines are a way to make the govt money, so the govt’s response should be taken with a grain of salt.

  5. The data is in, distracted driving causes too many accidents and deaths, and just because the distraction is legal, doesn’t make it safe or smart.

  6. The data is in, distracted driving causes too many accidents and deaths, and just because the distraction is legal, doesn’t make it safe or smart.

  7. I do not know how the law works in other countries, but here in the land of Aus, there is a law for using these devices, whilst driving, unless it is in a permanent cradle, attached to the vehicle, or in the boot of a car, where it only requires for a button to be pushed on the dashboard. (See details below how this applied here). Sadly we have lost too many persons through the use of these devices here in Australia. So something had to be done. I often find many people comment on issues like this, without knowing all the risks involved. Consider this; You are parked at traffic lights a hazard or something occurs, you could move your vehicle to avoid death, you do not because you are concentrating on your social media, So I understand the reason for the law. As for the Policeman, they were only doing their job. Please do not blame the policeman. It is the government who created the law, the policeman was only doing his job. Lobby the government if you want the law changed.

    Mobile phone road rules
    Learner, P1 and P2 drivers and motorcyclists

    Learner, P1 and P2 licence holders are not permitted to use a mobile phone at all while driving or riding. This includes when waiting at traffic lights or stuck in traffic. You must be parked out of the line of traffic to use your phone in any way.

    These laws encourage learner and provisional drivers and riders to concentrate on developing their vehicle control and hazard-perception skills. Mobile phone use can distract novice drivers and riders from the driving task.

    Learner and P1 drivers and riders penalised for illegally using a mobile phone (four demerit points) will exceed their demerit point threshold and face a three-month licence suspension. P2 drivers and riders will have three demerit points remaining if they are penalised for illegally using a mobile phone.

    Fully licensed drivers and motorcyclists, and all bicycle riders
    While driving or riding you CAN use your mobile phone:
    To make or answer a call

    ONLY if the phone is either:

    In a cradle fixed to the vehicle and doesn't obscure your view of the road
    can be operated without touching any part of the phone, such as via Bluetooth or voice activation

    To use the audio playing function (e.g. music)
    As a driver’s aid (e.g. navigation, Speed Adviser app)

    ONLY if the phone is in a cradle fixed to the vehicle and doesn’t obscure your view of the road
    While driving or riding you CANNOT use your mobile phone for anything else, including:
    Texting or audio texting

    If you want to use your phone for any of these functions, your vehicle must be parked out of the line of traffic
    These functions are not permitted when your vehicle is stopped, including when waiting at traffic lights or stuck in traffic

    Emailing
    Using social media
    Taking photos
    Video messaging
    Holding your phone in any way (in hand, on lap, between shoulder and ear). Drivers are only allowed to hold a phone to pass it to a passenger.

    Remember: Legal use of mobile phones can also be distracting. Consider if it is important and the demands of the traffic before using your mobile. The safest option is often to wait until you are parked out of the line of traffic.

  8. I do not know how the law works in other countries, but here in the land of Aus, there is a law for using these devices, whilst driving, unless it is in a permanent cradle, attached to the vehicle, or in the boot of a car, where it only requires for a button to be pushed on the dashboard. (See details below how this applied here). Sadly we have lost too many persons through the use of these devices here in Australia. So something had to be done. I often find many people comment on issues like this, without knowing all the risks involved. Consider this; You are parked at traffic lights a hazard or something occurs, you could move your vehicle to avoid death, you do not because you are concentrating on your social media, So I understand the reason for the law. As for the Policeman, they were only doing their job. Please do not blame the policeman. It is the government who created the law, the policeman was only doing his job. Lobby the government if you want the law changed.

    Mobile phone road rules
    Learner, P1 and P2 drivers and motorcyclists

    Learner, P1 and P2 licence holders are not permitted to use a mobile phone at all while driving or riding. This includes when waiting at traffic lights or stuck in traffic. You must be parked out of the line of traffic to use your phone in any way.

    These laws encourage learner and provisional drivers and riders to concentrate on developing their vehicle control and hazard-perception skills. Mobile phone use can distract novice drivers and riders from the driving task.

    Learner and P1 drivers and riders penalised for illegally using a mobile phone (four demerit points) will exceed their demerit point threshold and face a three-month licence suspension. P2 drivers and riders will have three demerit points remaining if they are penalised for illegally using a mobile phone.

    Fully licensed drivers and motorcyclists, and all bicycle riders
    While driving or riding you CAN use your mobile phone:
    To make or answer a call

    ONLY if the phone is either:

    In a cradle fixed to the vehicle and doesn't obscure your view of the road
    can be operated without touching any part of the phone, such as via Bluetooth or voice activation

    To use the audio playing function (e.g. music)
    As a driver’s aid (e.g. navigation, Speed Adviser app)

    ONLY if the phone is in a cradle fixed to the vehicle and doesn’t obscure your view of the road
    While driving or riding you CANNOT use your mobile phone for anything else, including:
    Texting or audio texting

    If you want to use your phone for any of these functions, your vehicle must be parked out of the line of traffic
    These functions are not permitted when your vehicle is stopped, including when waiting at traffic lights or stuck in traffic

    Emailing
    Using social media
    Taking photos
    Video messaging
    Holding your phone in any way (in hand, on lap, between shoulder and ear). Drivers are only allowed to hold a phone to pass it to a passenger.

    Remember: Legal use of mobile phones can also be distracting. Consider if it is important and the demands of the traffic before using your mobile. The safest option is often to wait until you are parked out of the line of traffic.

  9. “It is prohibited for any driver … to use a display screen.”

    Wow, I can’t drive either of my cars in Canada! Both have display screens instead of instrument panels, which, according to this law, would be a violation just driving along. What luddite crafted that law? I know that distracted driving is dangerous, but what is the definition of “distraction?” If it is not having both hands on the wheel, is a driver with a cup of coffee “distracted?” If it is holding a conversation, is a driver talking to a passenger “distracted?” If it is both together, what about a driver with a cup of coffee talking to a passenger? Why is the device, in itself, a distraction? If I am wearing an Apple watch, why is the simple wearing of it a “distraction?” I think most of these laws are huge over-reactions and poorly thought out. Typical of most governments–do what “feels” good, not what might actually make any difference.

    • Is It Legal To Eat While You Drive? (Author Spandas Lui).

      You’re running late for a morning meeting and you jump in the car with a piece of toast dangling out of your mouth. You happily nibble on the toast as you steer the car with one hand, content that you’ve avoided a case of the hangries and you’re on track to arrive at your destination on time. But is eating while you drive legal?

      A 2015 research paper by the Griffith Health Institute in Queensland found that eating while driving could be just as dangerous as texting while driving.

      “The results basically indicate that the trials involving texting or eating when driving both caused about the same amount of decrement to driving performance”, Griffith Health Institute lead researcher on the project Dr Chris Irwin told SBS. (Australian TV Channel).

      But how many of us have been guilty of munching on a snack behind the wheel? Many, I’m sure.

      There are now laws that prohibit drivers from texting while operating a vehicle. So are the any laws against eating while driving?

      Currently, there are no laws in any state or territory that specifically prohibits eating food or drinking (non-alcoholic) beverages while driving. However, under the Australian Road Rules 297(1), it states that “a driver must not drive a vehicle unless the driver has proper control of the vehicle”.

      According to the NRMA blog: ( NRMA is Australia’s largest Member organisation).

      "These types of offences are assessed on a case by case basis, including whether an incident occurred and are subject to a $433 fine and three demerit points [in NSW]. In school zones, the penalty increases to $541 with 4 demerit points."

      Eating and driving may be considered a cause of distraction when incidents are investigated. If the police decide your mobile picnic is causing you to drive erratically they are allowed to fine you – even if no specific road rules have been broken.

      In short, eating while you drive isn’t explicitly illegal but you should consider whether it will compromise your ability to have full control of your vehicle. Driving with one hand off the wheel so you can partake in a snack definitely fits into this category.

  10. “It is prohibited for any driver … to use a display screen.”

    Wow, I can’t drive either of my cars in Canada! Both have display screens instead of instrument panels, which, according to this law, would be a violation just driving along. What luddite crafted that law? I know that distracted driving is dangerous, but what is the definition of “distraction?” If it is not having both hands on the wheel, is a driver with a cup of coffee “distracted?” If it is holding a conversation, is a driver talking to a passenger “distracted?” If it is both together, what about a driver with a cup of coffee talking to a passenger? Why is the device, in itself, a distraction? If I am wearing an Apple watch, why is the simple wearing of it a “distraction?” I think most of these laws are huge over-reactions and poorly thought out. Typical of most governments–do what “feels” good, not what might actually make any difference.

    • Is It Legal To Eat While You Drive? (Author Spandas Lui).

      You’re running late for a morning meeting and you jump in the car with a piece of toast dangling out of your mouth. You happily nibble on the toast as you steer the car with one hand, content that you’ve avoided a case of the hangries and you’re on track to arrive at your destination on time. But is eating while you drive legal?

      A 2015 research paper by the Griffith Health Institute in Queensland found that eating while driving could be just as dangerous as texting while driving.

      “The results basically indicate that the trials involving texting or eating when driving both caused about the same amount of decrement to driving performance”, Griffith Health Institute lead researcher on the project Dr Chris Irwin told SBS. (Australian TV Channel).

      But how many of us have been guilty of munching on a snack behind the wheel? Many, I’m sure.

      There are now laws that prohibit drivers from texting while operating a vehicle. So are the any laws against eating while driving?

      Currently, there are no laws in any state or territory that specifically prohibits eating food or drinking (non-alcoholic) beverages while driving. However, under the Australian Road Rules 297(1), it states that “a driver must not drive a vehicle unless the driver has proper control of the vehicle”.

      According to the NRMA blog: ( NRMA is Australia’s largest Member organisation).

      "These types of offences are assessed on a case by case basis, including whether an incident occurred and are subject to a $433 fine and three demerit points [in NSW]. In school zones, the penalty increases to $541 with 4 demerit points."

      Eating and driving may be considered a cause of distraction when incidents are investigated. If the police decide your mobile picnic is causing you to drive erratically they are allowed to fine you – even if no specific road rules have been broken.

      In short, eating while you drive isn’t explicitly illegal but you should consider whether it will compromise your ability to have full control of your vehicle. Driving with one hand off the wheel so you can partake in a snack definitely fits into this category.

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