For the first time in California, a driver in San Diego County has been cited while wearing Google Glass. According to a news report in the Los Angeles Times, 44-year-old Cecilia Abadie, who lives in Temecula and works at a golf store in San Diego, was slapped with the ticket the night of October 29, 2013 after being stopped by a California Highway Patrol officer on Interstate 15 on suspicion of speeding. Abadie was sporting a Google Glass, which is a wearable computer being tested nationwide for possible entry into the marketplace.
Distracted Driving Law
CHP officials said that Abadie got the ticket as a violation of California Vehicle Code Section 27602, which states that it is against the law to “drive a motor vehicle if a television receiver, a video monitor, or a television or video screen, or any other means of visually displaying a television broadcast or video signal that produces entertainment or business applications is operating and is located in the motor vehicle at a point forward of the back of the driver’s seat, or is operating and the monitor, screen, or display is visible to the driver while driving the motor vehicle.”
What is Google Glass?
Google Glass is a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display, which shows information in a smartphone-like, hands-free format. Google Glass can also communicate with the Internet through natural language voice commands. While Google has responded to Abadie’s citation by saying that their product is not meant to distract drivers, CHP officials say it could still take a wearer’s attention away from driving.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), any activity that takes the driver’s eyes off the road, hands off the wheel or attention away from the act of driving, is a distraction. In this case, Google Glass does not require a driver to use his or her hands or require them to take their eyes off the road. However, despite its hands-free nature, it does take the driver’s attention away from the act of driving. Recent studies show that even hands-free phones and devices could distract drivers by taking their attention away. If drivers are not allowed to look at a computer or television screen while driving, what makes Google Glass different? It remains to be seen as we learn more about this new product.