Google Glass, the new wearable computing device, has been making news. Many people are looking forward to obtaining the head-mounted technology for making calls, searching the Web and more. However, safety advocates and some lawmakers are concerned about the device’s potential to cause auto accidents by distracting drivers who wear it behind the wheel.
What is Google Glass?
Google Glass is a new development in hands-free technology. It features glasses that hold a small display screen over the right eye. Users can take pictures and videos, get directions, send messages, hold conversations and more.
Currently, Google Glass is available only to participants who are testing the device through an “explorers” program. A software designer who was participating in the program became the first person in the nation to be ticketed while wearing Google Glass while driving.
On October 29, 2013, she was pulled over by a member of the California Highway Patrol who gave her a speeding ticket. The officer also gave her a ticket for wearing Google Glass under a California law that prohibits the use of a video-display in front of the driver’s head rest.
The woman elected to fight the charges. The design of the Google Glass device makes it become automatically activated when users tilt their heads up. The woman said that the device was not on while she was driving but was activated when she looked up as the officer approached her window.
After hearing the case, a traffic court commissioner dismissed both the charges. This does not make it legal to use Google Glass and drive, according to the commissioner. Instead, it puts the burden on the officer to prove that the device was actually in use while the vehicle was in motion.
What Does This Mean for Users?
This case doesn’t create new law for the state, as the decision was based on a law that was already on the books. To prove a violation of the law requires evidence that the device was actually in operation while the vehicle was in motion. This decision will not prevent others from receiving citations for wearing Google Glass while driving, and officers are still free to make those decisions on a case- by-case basis.
The result of this case did not answer the big question “Is it legal to wear Google Glass while driving?” Instead, it just shined a light on the risk of this new technology. However, many states are considering legislation to ban the use of Google Glass while driving. As Google Glass becomes more widely available, we’re likely to hear a lot more debate about the wearable computer and the risks of distracted driving.