Ever since we first heard about Google Glass, we here at Esurance have been debating whether it would create a driving distraction. Now, it seems lawmakers are having the same debate. In October 2013, Glass Explorer Cecilia Abadie was cited in San Diego for wearing Google Glass while driving — she’s thought to be the first person ticketed for this activity, which the California Highway Patrol officer equated with driving while watching TV or a video.
Last week, Abadie was found not guilty since there’s no proof that her device was in use while she was driving. But the question of whether Google Glass is distracting (assuming it’s on) remains. Legislators in 3 states — Delaware, New Jersey, and West Virginia— clearly think it is, and they’ve introduced bills that make driving with Google Glass illegal.
Is outlawing Google Glass while driving fair or even enforceable?
Proponents of Google Glass argue that it can be used in ways that actually help drivers, such as providing hands-free GPS directions. Although California recently passed a law against using GPS on a handheld smartphone, hands-free use of phones is still allowed.
Even if using GPS on Google Glass is deemed acceptable because it’s hands-free, there’s no way for police to know if a person wearing Glass is getting directions, watching a video, or reading a text. As we’ve seen, it’s currently impossible for them to know if the device is in operation at all. Police in New York, for example, are now using SUVs to spot texting drivers (most drivers hold their phone near their lap while texting, so the SUV’s height lets cops see down into cars). But Glass users will be much harder to catch.
Two ways of looking at Glass
When Abadie was cited in October, the CHP had stated, “anything that takes a driver’s attention from the road is dangerous.” On one hand, we agree since cognitive distraction can be just as dangerous as visual and manual distraction. There’s also concern about whether Glass interferes with a driver’s peripheral vision.
But, at the same time, we’re all about technology and believe in the power of innovation to assist drivers. So where do we go from here?
This debate is sure to grow more heated when Google releases its Glass device to the public later this year. What’s your opinion? Should using Glass while driving be banned? Or does it fall under the description of hands-free? Share your comments below.