Google has yet to offer its new wearable tech, Google Glass, in the U.K. – but the Department of Transport has already decided to set in motion a ban of the device for drivers.
Here’s what a Department of Transport spokesperson told Stuff:
We are aware of the impending rollout of Google Glass and are in discussion with the Police to ensure that individuals do not use this technology while driving. It is important that drivers give their full attention to the road when they are behind the wheel and do not behave in a way that stops them from observing what is happening on the road.
A range of offenses and penalties already exist to tackle those drivers who do not pay proper attention to the road including careless driving which will become a fixed penalty offense later this year.
In the U.K., using a hand-held phone while operating a motor vehicle is also illegal.
A Google spokesperson had this to say:
“We are thinking very carefully about how we design Glass because new technology always raises new issues. Our Glass Explorer program, currently only launched in the US, reaches people from all walks of life and will ensure that our users become active participants in shaping the future of this technology.”
Which doesn’t really respond to how the company will react to the ban – and any future bans in other areas. In an place like the U.K., where the Transportation Department is taking such a proactive stance on banning the technology, there’s probably not a lot that Google can do to change their minds. No matter the tweaks they make to Glass, it’ll always involve wearing a computer on your face. And to many officials, that screams distracted driving.
The U.K. is not alone in this. The product isn’t even available to the U.S. public (other than a handful of Google Glass Explorers, and just recently, their friends), and one state is already looking to ban its use by drivers. West Virginia has already introduced house bill 3057, which would amend the current code to ban the use of “a wearable computer with head mounted display.”
“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,” said Gary Howell, one of the bill’s authors. “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.”