Should The Government Ban The Use Of Google Glass While Driving?

    March 31, 2013
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

As previously reported, West Virginia is already looking to outlaw the use of devices like Google Glass while driving. Other states are likely to follow.

Do you think Google Glass and similar devices will create new road hazards and lead to highway fatalities? Should they be banned from using while driving? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Google Glass coming to market is getting closer to reality. In fact, this week, Google picked winners of the #ifihadglass contest, who will be able to get the device. Eventually, anyone with the money to do so will be able to get their hands on one if they so choose.

But so far, the device has not even become available for people to buy yet. Should the use of the device while driving really be outlawed before we even have a chance to really see how it can be used?

H.B. 3057 was recently introduced in the West Virginia legislature. It would add existing traffic safety rules in the state, specifically including a ban on “using a wearable computer with head mounted display”. This is described as “a computing device which is worn on the head and projects visual information into the field of vision of the wearer.”

The bill doesn’t single out Google Glass, of course (there will be plenty of competing devices), but it is a response to Google’s much hyped device. The bill’s authors see the amendment as an extension of not texting while driving. It’s understandable that they would want to prevent more deaths from reckless driving before they occur. However, an outright ban on the device could potentially prevent lives from being saved too.

You have to take into account that at this point we have no idea what these devices are really capable of, and it’s highly likely that developers will create applications that actually enhance safety. Consider this talk from one of the Google Glass engineers, who was actually talking about this kind of technology as it pertains to contact lenses (but it still applies here).

During his presentation, he outlines possibilities for the future, which include several types of vision improvement, such as “super vision,” night vision and multi-focal electronic lenses. In other words, it’s possible that at some point, devices like Google Glass could actually be used to help the vision impaired see better and more clearly. It’s possible that they can enhance anyone’s vision at night. Obviously, any of these scenarios could actually prevent auto accidents.

But that’s all just speculation for a possible future. The point is, do we want to have these devices banned before we really know what they can do? For that matter, if the technology makes it to contact lens form, how would any law ever be enforced?

It’s also worth considering what Google Glass is already capable of today, and that is, for one, shifting the focus from devices that require you to look away from the road. You’re taking your eyes off the road when you look at your phone, or even your dashboard/console. With Google Glass, you’re not.

As Matt Peckham at Time says, “West Virginia already bans texting while driving or using a phone without a hands-free device…But isn’t Google Glass also a hands-free device for your eyes? A way of potentially freeing you from looking at things that might otherwise take your eyes completely off the road, whether glancing at your phone to check the time or answer a call or scan the weather?”

It’s entirely possible that Google Glass will only evolve to become even less of a distraction over time. Google’s Matt Cutts put out a video this week talking about where he sees Google in ten years, and among his ideas was a theory about a “brain interface”.

“In theory there could be a brain interface so you could be having a dialogue where some of it is audible and some of it is not,” he contemplates.

Can you think while driving?

This is just futuristic speculation and imagination at this point, but in reality, it’s not that far fetched of a scenario. Ten years is a hell of a long time, especially in Google time. Ten years ago, Google was just getting Gmail off the ground. Now, they have driverless cars.

Gary Howell, one of the bill’s authors, told CNET, “I actually like the idea of the product and I believe it is the future, but last legislature we worked long and hard on a no-texting-and-driving law. It is mostly the young that are the tech-savvy that try new things. They are also our most vulnerable and underskilled drivers. We heard of many crashes caused by texting and driving, most involving our youngest drivers. I see the Google Glass as an extension.”

Interestingly enough, a new survey from AT&T, which looked at 1,000 commuters, showed that 49% of adults admit to texting while driving, compared to 43% of teens in another study from the company.

Of course, none of this really proves anything. I, for one, have not had the pleasure of trying one of the devices on, much less driving while wearing and operating one. I can’t speak from first-hand experience. It’s entirely possible that it does create distractions, and maybe there is valid argument for a ban. But banning the devices this early seems like a snap judgment that doesn’t take into consideration all possible factors.

Let’s not forget that Google started creating self-driving cars to reduce the number of auto accidents and make the roads safer. Some states like the idea of these being legal. Of course, driverless cars are more accident prone when humans are involved.

What do you think? Would a ban on Google Glass while driving be premature, or do you think it really is in the best interest of public safety? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Lead image: Google co-founder Sergey Brin driving while automatically snapping photos from Google Glass

  • http://2753productions.com Scott

    Why is this even being questioned? Of course it should be banned – ANYTHING that draws your attention away from the immediate and mortal task of driving should be banned while in the performance of that task! Period!

    How many people die each year – or kill others by texting while driving? Are we to add “Glassing while Driving” to the entirely too long list of avoidable automotive deaths?

  • Robert

    by the good way such offline spyware must be banned at all.

  • Robert Sexton

    NO! We do not need LAWS banning ANYTHING! We clearly have enough laws that are pointless and making news ones does not solve the problem. What we need is more responsibility for our actions. People need to step up to the plate and use their head when behind the wheel! This includes those drivers that create road rage which would not exist if people had any consideration for others. The road was meant to be shared, but it seems people can’t do this and think it was made for their exclusive use.

    Again, NO, we don’t need more stupid laws, we have plenty of those. We need people to pay attention when driving. (PERIOD) As doing so will solve MANY (not all) of the problems on the road today. People get behind the wheel and do everything except DRIVE. Driving is not a natural act and it must be done so that everyone is as safe as they can be. With everyone actually DRIVING, our roads will naturally become safer. Until then, there is NO LAW that can be put in place to make our roads safer. COMMON SENSE CAN!

    • Craig

      BRAVO!!!!!!! :)

      Couldn’t have said it better.

      THANK YOU!

  • John

    Google Glass should be banned in public. It is an invasion of privacy. It is bad enough having cams in every city recording everyone’s movement – so called legally, let alone having private individuals recording and using your every move while you go about your business. Some would say, “If I am doing nothing wrong, why should I care?” I say “If I am doing nothing wrong, What business is it of yours?” Google glass is an abomination and needs to be destroyed at conception. The world needs to be cleansed of this kind of trash. It is being marketed as a fun item, an on the face of it, it is. But the people of google use it for their own end. While Google used to tout “Do no evil” it seeks to spy on everyone’s move, and data is knowledge. Its time google died. People are getting sucked in with the rubbish google feeds them. It is a shame that as the world increases in knowledge, the world decreases in wisdom.

  • http://www.onlinetv.com Randy Penn

    With any kind of overlay you will have to move your brains focus to read/see any kind of information that might overlay the vision of the road. The writer obviously has a bent for the item rather than creating an article of import.

    Anything that distracts attention from the road and driving is just that, a distraction of your attention. If you are on the road with any vehicle you have a responsibility to be attentive while doing so. Be responsible first, not just dying to try a new gadget instead.

    • Craig

      Possibility…. ?

      Compare with scanning instruments like the speedometer or gps without looking away from the road.

      How about vision enhancement or improvements in the “hands off” concept with communication or vehicle operation? We could go on and on and on…

      I like the positive approach to life… some like the negative:(

  • http://dbugking.com Donald V Dunham

    The “Government” shouldn’t have anything to do with It.

  • Craig

    Another knee-jerk reaction by the ignorant!

    Send them all to their little island so they can achieve their orgasms from the feeling of controlling each other!

    It’s all about control… They must have been picked on in school! LOL!

  • Anonymous Coward

    What do you mean “The Government”? Is the new world order already here? Banning such devices is a quick step toward totalitarian control over information.

    • Craig


      You are correct.

      The controllers have a problem with life. I would like to also add to what I mentioned previously, not only they must have been picked on in school, they are more than likey dominated by their spouse and everyone else in general.

      The only way they can get their ultimate mental orgasm is by taking on a position of a “paper tiger” authority and causing anguish on others by the “CONTROL” factor.

      All I can say…. “Get a life”!

      By the way, this new device sounds like it will have the capabilities of enhancing safety. However, like anything else it may have some short falls?

      • John

        Tell me that again if someone you know is killed because someone was texting while driving

  • http://atticdiggers.com WAHM

    Amazing that people are arguing over whether we should allow ourselves to be DISTRACTED while driving. Ya think people should be allowed to drive drunk too? Or text while driving?

    Anything that distracts a driver from controlling two TONS of metal hurtling through space at a fast speed should be outlawed for everyone’s safety, especially since it’s the least sensible among us who will be the first to try this.

    If you wanna commit suicide, do it in a way that doesn’t take a bunch of innocent people with you.

  • Jake99

    Local, state, and the Federal governments SHOULD ban anything that distracts the driver of a motor vehicle. Enough is enough. If I need the government to protect me against every idiot out there texting, watching DVDs, etc. while driving, then so be it. People have no common sense or consideration when it come to other people’s safety.

    Why do you think there are so many stupid warnings on various products? It’s because of what STUPID people have done in the past.

  • http://powerpatch.dk Ejvind Jacobsen

    Of course not! Except if the car can drive itself painlessly!

  • http://ulc.net Become ordained online

    The government should ban everything. Only those things which our dear leader(s) consider safe and necessary should be permitted, and anything not explicitly permitted should be banned. Only then can we hope to be kept safe from the foolish choices we might otherwise make.

  • Fred

    It would be very nice if this function could be built into the Windshields of cars at the bottom of the windshields to show things like currently is done at the bottom of the computer screen where there would be no interference to driving. -Where a quick glance would show one other necessary details while driving. With the functions built into glasses, it is nice, but glasses are somewhat of a nuisance when having to use very wide vision, -for those that have wide vision -having the need to look around the edges of the glasses.
    Eye Glasses are also sometimes very irritating -of themselves. So are contacts.

    So -Images at the window bottoms would be very nice -where the vehicle hood is normally seen. Could some of those into High Tech please do something on this?

  • Fredi

    I think these are amazing for free time, walking though a city, looking for information and answers to questions and things of wonder for everyone, and instant image capture. Amazing and great. What I do not think we need is one more vehicle to distract drivers like (talking on a phone while driving). I was behind a driver last week who ran another car off the road and kept going. Got up along side him and Yes he was on his cell phone. I can see using it discreetly for directions, emergency contacts, and quick calling, even logging your route, but no driver interaction with while driving…absolutely not. There should be a law against what the limits of available info could be accessed in a car while moving.

  • http://thesecrettomakingmoney.com Steve Schellert

    Google glass would be no different then the latest technology used by fighter pilots in the military. There is a heads up display that provides information. With training devices can be an advantage.

    As we forge ahead, change will happen. Just a small bump in the road until value can be proven!

    Steve Schellert

  • http://thesecrettomakingmoney.com Steve Schellert

    I see this technology having the same advantage similiar to information delivered to figher pilots heads up display. With the right training, this is a tool!

    Change will happen and we will move forward.
    There are always bumps in the road in the beginning.

    Looking forward to the future!

    Steve Schellert

  • Paul Taylor

    Of course they shouldn’t ban it. It will be far safer than taking your eyes off the road to glance down at a satnav. Having said that, a ‘driving mode’ that prevents Facebook notifications etc. could be a necessary requirement.

  • http://www.classicpaintingsgallery.com Classical Thai Paintings

    Wow Best technology Thanks you so much

  • http://www.classicpaintingsgallery.com Nathamon

    Google The “Government” shouldn’t have anything to do with It.

  • http://www.sbwebcenter.com Steve

    Of course it should be banned while driving! This isn’t a matter of infringing on your freedom – it’s a matter of safety. There are enough accidents on the road without this added distraction.

  • Two Dogs

    We have entirely TOO MUCH Government telling us what we should do or should not do. It is not the government’s job to protect us from ourselves. I realize that we have raised an entire generation of pampered protected offspring with shelves of “participation” trophies, nurtured and protected by overzealous over-protective mothers, and who have been conditioned to think in terms of what we are “allowed” to do instead of what we can do, but this absolutely must change.

  • http://www.graciousstore.com Nina

    How can the Government enact a law for what is not yet in a existence? How can Government ban the use of Google glasses for driving when it is not yet in the market say more of people having it in their possession? Let us see the Google glasses first and know what it is like before we discuss its potential road hazards.

  • Johnsmith41

    No! Unlike other devices, Google Glasses isn’t obstructing anything but the very corner, so unless you like staring at people’s rearview mirrors, its not a distraction. Except the need to push a button, maybe a car mode with voice control?