For years regulators have argued about the dangers of using cell phones while operating motor vehicles. As Distracted Driving Month 2015 reached its conclusion, Apple released a new product providing another potential source of distraction.

Temecula, CA  May 6th, 2015 – Apple’s long-awaited release of the Apple Watch launched on Friday, April 24th with as much fanfare as one would expect from the company that brought us the iPod, iPhone and iPad. The watch offers many nice features, from a simple reminder that you need to get up and move around every few minutes to a ‘bionic’ method for constantly monitoring blood sugar levels in diabetics.

But to those in fleet management, the Apple Watch is potentially another distraction for their drivers.

AppleWatch“The Apple Watch has great potential,” said Eddie Bermudez, GPS Trackit’s Manager of Product Development. “But we’re still trying to get a handle on cell phone use and the impact that has on distracted driving.”

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, as of today 14 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands all have some form of Primary handheld device ban. This applies to using a smartphone for navigation as well as for communication.

“This means that law enforcement doesn’t need another reason to pull you over,” said Bermudez. “And those are just the states that ban the use of handheld devices while driving. Many other states have cell phone or texting bans, with specific criteria like for school bus drivers or novice drivers.”

It’s early days still for the Apple Watch, but consider the issues it raises. Users can receive text messages via the watch, which vibrates to alert them to an incoming message. The watch is on their wrist, meaning that they’ll need to use their other hand to activate the controls to display messages, etc.

“Now they’re not just distracted, they’re driving one-handed,” observed Bermudez. “And the watch is smaller, so it requires more attention to manipulate it.”

Many fleet managers are implementing policies that require drivers to turn off cell phones while driving. Some are finding that the temptation is too great and have even installed lock boxes in their vehicles to prevent drivers from even handling their phones while driving.

“GPS Trackit was first to market with driving behavior alerts and reports,” concluded Bermudez. “We’ve seen progress over the last couple of years as employers have been able to use our driving behavior data like rapid acceleration and hard braking to educate their drivers. Think about what happened with Google Glass. They thought a ‘heads up display’ would be safer for drivers, but even that proved to be too distracting.”

About GPS Trackit

GPS Trackit was established in 1999.  For over 15 years it has been a leading North American supplier of GPS tracking and fleet/mobile workforce management services.  Located in Southern California, GPS Trackit is dedicated to providing the most innovative, cutting-edge GPS technology backed by the best customer service in the industry today.