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Wearable technology distracts drivers

When you think of distracted driving, what comes to mind?

Most people think of someone texting while driving, or talking on the phone while driving.

But there are other forms of distracted driving as well – many of which can be very dangerous.

A study conducted by the University of Texas at San Antonio found that drivers who wear a wearable technology device can be as distracted as those who are texting while driving.

Wearable technology can include:

  • Smart watches,
  • Activity/health trackers (such as Fitbit)
  • Head-mounted displays
  • Google Glass (no longer manufactured)

These devices are designed to be easy to access and use. But this very design may actually make the devices as or more dangerous than phones, depending on how they are used.

A total of 20 volunteers from the university participated in the study. The participants used a driving simulator, while simultaneously using Google Glass or a smart phone.

The study leaders sent the drivers text messages. They asked the drivers to try to safely read and respond to the messages. The driving simulator monitored each driver’s steering and driving, to see if the driver drifted outside of the driving lane.

The results were telling. While the wearable technology allowed the drivers to quickly and easily respond – it also gave participants a false sense of security, making them more likely to engage with the device.

Anything that takes a driver’s eyes and attention off the road can pose a threat to the driver’s safety and the safety of other motorists. This includes wearable devices that are designed to be extremely user friendly. Drivers may feel safe using the devices while driving, but they are still distracting the driver.

Truly, the only safe approach to distracted driving is a zero tolerance approach. This means putting phones and wearable devices out of reach. Drivers should focus on one thing – driving safely, without distractions.