Wearable technology, such as smartwatches, is becoming increasingly prevalent and has the potential to disrupt people’s attention. While these technologies have the potential to increase people’s productivity and awareness, they also have the potential to create dangerous diversions, particularly for drivers. Distracted driving is a significant contributor to automobile accidents.
What is the Primary Risk to a Driver Who Is Wearing a Smartwatch?
Distracted driving is the most common types of car accident for drivers who wear smartwatches. Receiving notifications on a smartwatch enhances a motorist’s proclivity for unsafe conduct, since it tempts the driver to divert their attention away from the road in order to interact with the gadget.
This is comparable to the risky driver distraction trends associated with smartphone use. Phone-related activities that endanger drivers and other road users include holding a phone to one’s ear while driving, texting while driving, and otherwise interacting with the device when one’s primary emphasis should be on operating the car safely. Smartphones provide many of the same sorts of engagement, but they are allegedly hands-free, a distinction that may be troublesome for the motorist who sees no harm in a quick peek at their wristwatch.
When drivers divert their attention away from the task of driving, it has a detrimental effect on their capacity to recognise roadway danger and react appropriately when a dangerous scenario does occur.
What Features of Smartwatches Make Them Dangerous for Drivers?
Accident Analysis & Prevention published a study from HEC Montréal Tech3Lab. The laboratory investigates how people interact with technology. The researchers evaluated the characteristics, features, and functionalities of smart technologies and wearables, as well as how those characteristics influenced driver behaviours that resulted in distraction and automobile accidents. The study investigated different modes of communication, including smartwatches and mobile phones, to see how sending a text or voice message affects a driver’s focus and reaction time.
Thirty-one drivers were seated in a driving simulator and subjected to four different notification-delivery scenarios for the study. The drivers got alerts via a smartwatch, a mobile phone, and a speaker in three of the simulated driving conditions. In those instances, the driver was instructed to respond to the alerts with their voice. The fourth test required participants to respond to a written text that appeared on the screen of a smartphone or smartwatch by typing a response using the phone.
The simulation research discovered that smartwatches disturb drivers more than mobile phones do, although voice assistants are less distracting. Unsurprisingly, drivers were less focused on the road when they were reading written texts, as their gaze was diverted away from the road to read the message on the phone’s screen.
The researchers discovered that when messages were delivered by speaker, drivers were able to maintain a greater level of concentration on the road than when no speakers were employed. The study’s findings reveal that the most secure method of delivering text notifications is via audio technology that utilises the phone’s speaker mode.
According to this study, the most unsafe method of delivering phone notifications is via notification via a timepiece.