As early as the end of this year, people will be able to start purchasing a new product called Google Glass, a.k.a. Google glasses. The product is eye-wear that acts as a head mounted computer. With various voice commands you can surf the web, send a message, check the weather, take photos and video, and get directions.
While you cannot buy this product yet, there has already been a law proposed to ban it’s use while driving. A legislator in West Virginia, Gary Howell has proposed HB 3037, which adds language to the state’s texting law to make illegal the act of “using a wearable computer with head mounted display” while driving.
Google Glass YouTube Video
The Republican legislator is quoted as saying that he likes the idea of the Google glasses and believes they are a product of the future, however he believes that the use of the product is a form of distracted driving. He also thinks that younger and more inexperienced drivers are more likely to use the product and that the glasses could lead to motor vehicle accidents. He argues that we all know there has been many fatal accidents caused by texting and driving, and that he and his fellow lawmakers fought very hard to ban texting while driving in West Virginia.
I have not been able to find any articles on his proposed law where he or any other legislator talk about research or testing to back up his theory of increased accidents. Google on the other hand is stating they believe their product could reduce accidents. Google Glass uses hands-free technology and is voice activated. In theory, as a driver uses the product they would not have to take their eyes off the road.
The Google glasses have voice-activated turn by turn navigation. So instead of having to push buttons on your dashboard and having to look down to your right for navigation, you can just communicate to the head-mounted display your final destination, and you will be instructed where to go without taking your eyes off the roadway.
When I drive, I find that using my iPhone is significantly easier than onboard navigation. It is easier to use, and I can hold the navigation screen up higher, or mount it on my dashboard, so when I look at it the road is still in front of me. Google Glass seems to take that step further. I would never have to take my eyes off the road in theory.
Outlawing the use of Google Glass while driving concerns me without more research. Texting while driving is illegal in many states, however research shows many teenagers ignore the new laws and the statutes are difficult to enforce. With the Google product, teens could send messages verbally without ever taking their eyes off the roadway. In reality, the Google glasses could save lives with new safety technology, however the proposed law in West Virginia could prevent those lives from being saved.
I can only hope there will be research on this issue before the product comes on the market, and as a car crash lawyer I am very interested in seeing the results.
The new DUI: State may make it illegal to drive while using Google Glass, By Dean Takahashi, March 24, 2013, VentureBeat.com
Google Glass: what you need to know, By James Rivington, March 25, 2013, Techradar.com
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