People are using their smartwatches while driving, survey finds

Scanwatch Apple Watch
Scanwatch Apple Watch (Image credit: Bryan M. Wolfe / iMore)

What you need to know

  • A new survey found that a surprisingly high number of UK drivers are using their smartwatches when driving.
  • 49% of men said they'd used their smartwatch when driving.
  • Younger drivers were more likely to use their smartwatches when behind the wheel.

While there has been attention drawn to the problems caused by using smartphones while driving we've heard precious little about smartwatches. Are people using them when driving, and if so, what are they doing?

That's a question UK-based car buying service Choose My Car set out to find out. After surveying 2,000 smartwatch-owning drivers — presumably, a healthy number was Apple Watch owners — the results might be surprising to some.

For example, 18% of people said that they read messages and notifications from their wrist while behind the wheel. 16% of respondents had used their wrist computer to accept or decline a call, too.

The rundown of things people admitted doing with their smartwatches while driving includes:

  • Read a message or notification 18%
  • Accept or decline a call 16%
  • Reply to a message 14%
  • Skip a music track 14%
  • Read sat nav instructions 10%
  • Scroll and find a playlist or song on Spotify (or other music streaming services) 7%

In total, 49% of men said that they'd used their smartwatches while driving with the results very much skewed towards younger drivers.

When looking at age of smartwatch users while driving:

  • Under 34 years old 58%
  • 35 - 54 years old 43%
  • Over 55 years old just 7%

While there are rightly laws against using your iPhone while driving, using your Apple Watch is even more dangerous in many ways. Its screen is smaller, for example, taking even more attention to read. There is currently "very little clarity or publicity around the legalities of smartwatch use while driving," the report notes. And while I'm a big fan of Apple Watch Series 7, I can heartily say that using it while driving is a terrible idea.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.