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Apple Watch Declared a Highway Safety Threat in U.K.

Safety experts in the U.K. are questioning whether the new wearable device will be just as much of a driver distraction as handheld cellphones.
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When driving in Britain, stay on the left side of the road –- and don’t look at your new Apple Watch. Safety experts in the United Kingdom are questioning whether the new wearable device will distract drivers as much as cellphones and tablet computers. And British authorities have indicated that someone using an Apple Watch when involved in a fatal crash could be subject to serious penalties. The U.K.’s Institute for Advanced Motorists is leading the charge, declaring that the Watch “could significantly impair driving performance.” The organization cited a study indicating mobile phones had contributed to nearly 2,000 accidents in Britain. “Having a wristwatch linked to users’ mobile phone only suggests a higher proportion of drivers’ performance will be significantly impaired,” the organization said in a statement. British regulators are taking action, declaring that use of the wearable technology while driving would be subject to a 100-pound fine, as well as three points on a driving record. In the United States, existing laws restricting the use of handheld phones would likely apply, according to Russ Rader, a senior vice president with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. NBC News has reached out to Apple for comment.



--- Paul A. Eisenstein, The Detroit Bureau