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WV First to Mull Ban on Google Glasses While Driving

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Detail of Google GlassWith the advent of “Google Glass” (GG), eyeglasses that place the Internet right in front of a wearer’s eyes, there are concerns about distracted driving, and West Virginia is the first state in the U.S. to be considering a bill to ban the technology while driving, as Chris Matyszczyk writes for CNET’s Technically Incorrect.

In fact, Matyszczyk reports that he received a “curious” message from Gary G. Howell, a Republican in the WV legislature: “Your article on Google Glass prompted this bill.”

Howell went on to elaborate that although he likes the idea of Google Glass (believing that it is the future), and is a libertarian, and government “has no business protecting us from ourselves,” he also believes government “does have a duty to make sure I don’t injure or kill someone else.” When a person chooses to use GG while driving and winds up crossing the centerline of a road because he or she is reading a text, then their actions affect someone else, Howell said.

The bill would prohibit the operation of a vehicle by any driver who is “using a wearable computer with a head-mounted display,” writes Addy Dugdale for Fast Company. Howell sees his bill as an extension of the state’s no-texting-while-driving law. The law seeks to curtail use of GG especially by young people, who the legislator says comprise the largest tech-savvy group that tries new things. His bill would allow law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, and drivers of authorized emergency vehicles to wear GG, Dugdale writes.

Howell believes that other states will follow his lead, Matyszczyk writes, adding that it is clear that Google is fine with people wearing GG in their cars: “Your car will drive itself, after all.” He is of course referring to Google’s self-driving cars, which are still in the testing phase in California, Arizona, and Florida, and which Colorado was about to consider permitting before State Senator Greg Brophy postponed his bill indefinitely, as this blog has reported.

The Google Glass eyewear is expected to be available by the end of 2013 and to cost around $1,500, Dugdale notes.

In a comment to the CNET article, “sqwirrelz” writes:

Of course it should be banned while driving. You are driving, that’s all you should be doing. People on the road are stupid enough already, they don’t need something right in front of them to be a distraction. Arguments about safety features are excellent, and i think extra safety would be great, even though if people would just learn how to drive properly in the first place, we wouldn’t need extra safety measures. A handful of people with Google Glass would use it for practical purposes, while the other 95% will be causing accidents while watching videos of adorable kittens throwing up hairballs.

Here is a video of what you might see while wearing Google Glass:

Image by Antonio Zugaldia.

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