The safety police are at it again.
According to British magazine Stuff, the U.K. Department for Transport is working proactively to enact regulations that would bar drivers from wearing Google Glass while operating a motor vehicle. Ironically, the product hasn’t even hit British shores yet, won’t be released in wide scale until late 2013 at the very earliest, and hasn’t yet been tested by any official automobile safety organization.
Perhaps that’s reactive instead of proactive.
A Department of Transport representative told Stuff:
“We are aware of the impending rollout of Google Glass and are in discussion with the police to ensure that individuals do not use this technology while driving. It is important that drivers give their full attention to the road when they are behind the wheel and do not behave in a way that stops them from observing what is happening on the road.”
So much for eating in the car. Or changing the radio station. Or, perhaps, even talking to passengers while you’re driving, which according to recent research, is almost as bad as talking on the phone:
Listening to the radio or audiobooks was judged mildly distracting. Talking on a hand-held or hands-free phone or to a passenger was more distracting, with hand-held conversations the worst of these.
Distracted driving is a major problem, one that kills thousands and injures nearly half a million people in the U.S. alone every year, according to the U.S. government. Speaking as someone who paid a €150 fine in Lisbon while trying to get directions to my hotel — back when the Euro was worth a lot more than it is now — I get it.
But surely we can base this on actual science and testing instead of immediate shoot-from-the-hip judgment calls?
This is likely to happen in the U.S. as well.
A call to the U.S. Department of Transportation regarding whether the organization was considering any regulations or recommendations to states regarding Google Glass was not immediately answered. But Virginia led U.S. states in considering legislation to ban Glass from the car way back in May.
At the time, I wondered if Google Glass wasn’t the new Segway — an innovative product jumped on by regulators anxious to do their jobs, be seen doing their jobs, and maybe get a few lines of press by linking themselves to conversations about a hot new product.
Hopefully that isn’t the case here.