About two weeks ago, Cecilia Abadie of Temecula, California, was issued a speeding ticket by a California Highway Patrolman. That’s not unusual, but what followed may be the first ticket of its kind in the country. The CHP officer noted Abadie was wearing Google Glass and gave her a second ticket which is usually reserved for drivers who may be distracted by a video or TV screen.
Google Glass is a lightweight transparent monitor mounted on an eyeglasses frame. The wearer is able to see through the monitor and interacts with the computer via voice commands. Google Glass can display time, temperature, take pictures and video, share what the wearer sees with other people, provide directions, send messages, search data, translate your voice, and more. It’s a fascinating wearable technology that has far reaching implications.
California state law states it’s illegal to “drive a motor vehicle if a television receiver, a video monitor, or a television or video screen, or any other means of visually displaying a television broadcast or video signal that produces entertainment or business applications is operating and is located in the motor vehicle at a point forward of the back of the driver’s seat, or is operating and the monitor, screen, or display is visible to the driver while driving the motor vehicle.”
Texas driving laws are similar in that they state, “no television viewer, screen or other means of visually receiving a television broadcast can be located in the field of view of the operator of the vehicle while the vehicle is in motion.” What the California law has that the Texas law lacks is the issue of a device receiving and displaying “business application” data.
In Ms. Abadie’s case simply wearing Google Glass while driving positioned the screen in front of the back of the driver’s seat was in violation of California law. While admitting that the Google Glass was on, Abadie stated she wasn’t actively using it which may or may not help her case.
Regardless of Ms. Abadie’s decision on whether to fight the ticket for distracted driving, there are some interesting questions that haven’t completely been answered.
- Due to the broadness of the many state’s laws, California and Texas included, does wearing Google Glass violate them?
- Does wearing Google Glass or other devices with a portable screen constitute and contribute to driving distracted?
- Should state laws be changed to specifically prohibit use of Google Glass wearing while driving a motor vehicle?
- Does it matter if it can be proven the wearer is using or not using Google Glass while driving?
These questions will be answered completely in the coming months as state laws are adapted to new technology. Safety experts are already weighing in on the subject stating drivers aren’t looking where they need to look when glancing at the Glass’ screen. Others have said that anything that takes your attention away from other drivers in front of you is a distraction. And not to be outdone, legislators in Delaware, New Jersey, and West Virginia have introduced bills that would specifically ban driving while wearing Google Glass.
I believe Glass could be safer than reaching for a cell phone to make a call or even checking for directions whether with a smartphone or with a GPS system. I also believe they could contribute to distracted driving and from a safety standpoint, that’s not a good thing.
What do you think? Share your thoughts, comments, suggestions, and questions with me on our Google + and Facebook pages or in the comments section of our blog. I’d love to hear from you!