We love new technology as much as the next person, but we have to agree with Brooklyn Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz that driving while wearing Google Glass is just as dangerous as talking on a cellphone. Or texting. Or applying mascara. Or checking the box scores. Or doing anything except paying attention to the road.
For the non-tech savvy, Google Glass is wearable technology embedded in eyeglasses, making it instantly available. Some flashy marketing has piqued the interest of many potential users. It’s not available to the general public – yet. But when it hits the scene, it will either fail or fascinate and become the next must-have gadget.
Google Glass, which looks like a tiny appendage on a pair of glasses, does a lot. According to a Google website, it can take a picture, take video, share pictures and video, even live video, through social media, give the user directions, allow the user to speak to send a message, “ask whatever’s on your mind,” translate your voice, and give information on flight times at the airport.
Google Glass promises to do a lot. And that is exactly why Ortiz, who introduced legislation to outlaw the use of the technology while driving, is concerned. Don’t think that Ortiz is on a fool’s errand. He’s the lawmaker who, back in 2000, authored the original law banning handheld cellphone use while driving.
He thinks that the flood of information Google Glass is able to convey would become a dangerous distraction for drivers. That’s what a California officer thought when he ticketed a woman for speeding while wearing the $1,500 glasses in October. She pleaded not guilty in a San Diego traffic court and is awaiting further proceedings.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the officer cited a section of the California vehicle code that prohibits drivers from watching television or video signals other than on dashboards, navigation systems and backup cameras. The law doesn’t mention taking pictures and videos and uploading them to social media, so give the officer credit for applying old legislation to new technology.
Google has defended itself. The company, in a message to those taking part in the Google Explorer testing program, implores users to pay attention to the road, whether driving or bicycling. As for safety? There’s an app for that available on Google Glass. It’s called DriveSafe and it is intended to keep drivers awake. The user can say, “OK Glass, keep me awake,” and the wearer gets audible alerts if the device senses that the driver is dozing behind the wheel.
Here’s a better way to stay safe, and certainly undistracted, behind the wheel. Don’t drive while wearing Google Glass. If it takes legislation to get the message across, we’ll come down on the side of safety.