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Google Glass and Distracted Driving Part II: Are bans enforceable?

In Part, I of Google Glass and Distracted Driving, the application of existing distracted driving laws to Google’s high tech head gear was discussed. In Part II, your Denver personal injury attorney follows up on new legislative initiatives as well as new technological innovations to Glass.

The issue of whether Glass is a distraction to drivers and whether distracted driving laws, therefore, apply to the device was brought to national attention when a California Highway Patrol officer gave Cecilia Abadie a ticket for speeding, and then issued a ticket for wearing Google Glass. The officer applied an existing law that prohibits operating a video device in front of the driver’s headrest where it could distract the driver. Both charges were ultimately dismissed for lack of proof; although Ms. Abadie was wearing Glass, the officer had no proof that the device was operating while she was driving. If it was not operating, it would not violate the law applied by the officer.

In an attempt to formulate laws that are both applicable and enforceable, some states have introduced legislation that applies to “head-mounted” electronic devices. Although these laws would apply to Glass, they still do not solve the problem of enforceability, unless simply wearing the device would constitute a violation of the law (rather than requiring the operation of Glass while driving in order to violate the law). Obviously Google has lobbied fiercely against such heavy-handed regulations, maintaining that the eyewear is no more dangerous than any other hands-free technology. But your Denver personal injury attorney points out that it is Google Glass’s new apps that may save it from being banned from the road.

Could Google Glass Make Driving Safer?

Some new apps are designed to work like smart car apps, and help to monitor speed, road hazards, and even driver fatigue. Others can be used as a GPS and help drivers find their destination. Google argues that these new innovations actually make driving safer, and the fact that the apps can be engaged verbally means that the driver’s hands can remain where they should be–on the steering wheel.

Still, the idea of a driver wearing glasses that can stream videos and television shows while driving runs counter to everything we understand about safety on the road. Many legislators cite this aspect of Glass as their biggest stumbling block in giving the technology their support. Taking note of this, an app that would disengage the video and television function when the wearer of Glass is driving, and engage the “smart car” functions is being considered. If such technology could be developed, the issue of whether wearing Glass distracts the driver would be much easier to legislate and enforce.

The pace of technology continues to make existing practices and laws obsolete. Computers have gone from mainframes taking up an entire room to PCs, to laptops, to smartphones, to Glasses. The way that the technology impacts us and our environment–distracted driving, distracted walking, and privacy issues to name just a few–has created whole new areas of law and litigation. If you would like more information on distracted driving laws and Google Glass, contact Jordan Levine at The Levine Law Firm.

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