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Texting and driving is more dangerous than drinking and driving, but what about “glassing” and driving?
Illinois’ Sen. Ira Silverstein has introduced legislation that would ban people from wearing Google Glass while driving.
“It’s just another way people will be distracted,” Silverstein told the Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers. “People’s attention to the road should not be interrupted.”
Illinois follows West Virginia, Delaware, and New Jersey in putting forward a bill that would make it illegal to drive while wearing Google Glass.
All this is happening before the device even goes on sale to the general public.
Texting, watching videos, checking up on news, and talking on the phone are highly distracting activities and are responsible for over a million car crashes a year. Most states in the U.S. have laws that restrict cell phone and device use by drivers.
As VentureBeat’s Ricardo Bilton put it, Glass is at its most simple “a video display that you strap to your face” and presents many of the same safety concerns as a cell phone display.
However Glass is a brand new technology, and specific regulations surrounding its use are still being figured out.
This issue came to the forefront at the end of October when Glass explorer Cecilia Abadie got a ticket in California for “driving with monitor visible to driver (Google Glass),” although she was also speeding. California law forbids drivers from operating vehicles while distracted by a video device, and the ticketing police officer said wearing Glass constituted a violation of the law.
Abadie claimed her Glass wasn’t even on at the time.
The legislative process tends to move slower than technology, and this requires regulatory bodies to come out with more detailed sets of rules, unless they want to find themselves awash in a sea of ambiguity and defendants who say they weren’t doing anything dangerous or wrong.
In its FAQ about Glass, Google does tell users to “read up and follow the law” about the use of mobile devices and motor vehicles. But some people say Glass doesn’t interfere with driving because it is hands-free or that, as a navigational device, it is exempt from the law.
If people are allowed to talk on their phone using a headset, or type in directions using a GPS, should they also be allowed to wear Glass? The tricky part is, Glass has the potential to create distractions (like cat videos), as well as provide services that are acceptable while driving, like getting directions.
How and where to draw the line will be determined state by state, and even cop by cop, in the meantime.