Google Glass Could Face Driving Ban


Minority Report pictured a world where tech could apparently help prevent crimes before they happen. A West Virginia legislator wants to reverse that process by outlawing use of a new technology before it’s released.

Gary G Howell has introduced a bill to amend state law on using cellphone and other electronic communication devices while driving. At the moment the law specifically bans people from driving while texting or using a device that isn’t in hands-free mode. Howell wants to extend that ban to cover driving while “using a wearable computer with head mounted display.)

It’s no secret that this is a pre-emptive attempt to cover the use of Google’s Glass. Howell says he actually likes the idea of the product, a set of spectacles that Google believes will re-imagine the form factor of the smartphone. However, Howell says it’s previously taken a lot of work and political will to get a ban on texting while driving in West Virginia, so he doesn’t want to see that undone by new tech.

If passed in time, the new law would take effect on July 1st this year. The penalties would be the same as for texting or using a handheld phone: a $100 fine for a first offense, $200 for a second offense and $300 for all subsequent offenses.

Howell told CNET that although he’s uncertain how the bill will get on in West Virginia, he believes it will prompt similar proposals in other states.

On an unconnected but linguistically geeky note, Howell is also proposing amending the law to use clearer language, for example by changing “shall mean” to “means.” “Shall” is a longstanding bugbear of plain language advocates who argue that although it looks clear and legally precise, it’s an ambiguous term open to several interpretations and doesn’t have a definitive legal meaning.

Howell has also added a note reading “The purpose of this bill is to provide that using a wearable computer with a head-mounted display violates the provisions of this section.” The idea here is to reduce the chances of a lawyer arguing for an interpretation of any wording in the law that would contradict the intentions of the law.


6 Responses to Google Glass Could Face Driving Ban

  1. “At the money…”
    Do you mean “At the moment…” or are you making a comment on the US legislative system?

  2. I think she overlooks the real advantages of Glass over mobile phone and current GPS units…. you don’t have to look away from the road to see what it’s showing you, nor do you need to touch it to control it, merely speak, exactly the same as handsfree mode on a phone.

  3. I don’t see an issue, fighter pilots use HMD and stuff since years with all kinds of icons and text while fighting other planes… is this just a gut feeling for this politaican? Or are the real studies that would show if reading a message with one eye could be a bad thing… I think this is totally different from SMS typing and looking down and not at the road. But with this system you have one eye on the road and this should be good enough.

    • And those pilots have years of training with that tech, first in simulators, later in training scenarios with friendly “enemy’s”, and much later, actual combat.

      Google Glass requires no formal training, which means that anybody with a car can get on the highway and start doing what ever they feel they can handle. I wonder how many will be killed, or will kill others, while playing games or watching videos, and therefor not pay attention to their surroundings.

      I believe that even the current laws are to tame. No use of phones should be allowed. Including use with hands-free devices.
      It’s not a question of “are you holding the phone or not”, it’s a question of “are you using the phone or not”

      Any distraction from the act of piloting the vehicle, increases the likelihood of accidents.

      I would hate to get run over, or run off the road, by someone, who thought they were perfectly capable of driving and Wordfeuding at the same time.

      In short:
      Don’t drink and drive.
      Don’t call and drive.
      Don’t Glass and drive.

  4. It’s probably a good idea until vehicles are smarter and can take over steering and braking if the driver is impaired or distracted. That shouldn’t be long, however.