Drivers who cause fatal accidents while using smartwatches will face up to two years in prison in the UK, the same penalty as those caught using smartphones.
A 2005 British Medical Journal study found using a hands-free device was as risky as using a hand-held mobile phone when driving.
IAM Director of Policy and Research Neil Greig spoke on the matter on Tuesday.
“An Apple Watch has the potential to be just as distracting as any other smartphone device, indeed more so if you have to take you hand off the wheel to interact with it.”
“Powers exist to seize and interrogate devices in the event of a serious crash. The very device that distracted you also has the power to convict you.”
“It has to be emphasised that anything causing even a momentary distraction for the driver is not a welcome addition.”
“While smart watches might be the next big fashion accessory, there is nothing fashionable about a device that distracts you when behind the wheel.”
“It’s possible that manufacturers might think it’s not their responsibility to warn drivers about the dangers, but they need to be pushing the responsible message too. Enjoy this equipment too, but use it in the right place at the right time.”
The Apple Watch allows users to make and receive phone calls, check their messages and monitor their health.
Apple has declined to comment.