Google Glass In The Car - Does It Count As Distracted Driving?
October 31, 2013

Speeding Ticket Spurs Debate Over Legality Of Driving While Using Google Glass

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

A California woman has taken to social media after being ticketed for speeding and distracted driving. What makes her offense so unique is that she was wearing Google Glass when the California Highway Patrol officer pulled her over in San Diego.

The woman, identified by the Huffington Post as “self-proclaimed Google Glass pioneer Cecilia Abadie,” posted a scanned image of the ticket she received on her Google+ account. On the ticket, she is cited for “driving with monitor visible to driver (Google Glass),” which the website describes as a secondary violation.

According to VentureBeat’s Ricardo Bilton, Abadie “fell victim to a California law that forbids drivers from operating vehicles while distracted by a video device… Considering that Glass, at its most simple, is a video display that you strap to your face, it should be fairly obvious why the San Diego police thought she deserved a ticket.”

Are they right, though? Is wearing Google Glass a ticketable offense? Abadie herself posed the question on her social media account, pondering whether or not operating a motor vehicle while using the wearable computer with the optical head-mounted display (OHMD). Even the law itself seems to provide no clear answer.

Rob Jackson of Phandroid explains that the California state law pertaining to the incident, V C Section 27602 Television, states that a person “shall not drive a motor vehicle if a television receiver, a video monitor, or a television or video screen, or any other similar 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.”

That portion of the law seems pretty cut and dry, but he points out that there is a list of exceptions to the law, one of which could applicable to the device: “a visual display used to enhance or supplement the driver’s view forward, behind, or to the sides of a motor vehicle for the purpose of maneuvering the vehicle.”

Furthermore, Bilton points out that Abadie could claim that the device was a global positioning display, which would be legal under the California statue, and that the driver herself maintains that the Glass unit wasn’t even operational at the time she was pulled over.

According to the Huffington Post, legislators in Delaware and West Virginia have introduced bills that would equate Google Glass to smartphones or other devices typically covered by distracted driving laws. The point of this type of legislation is to ban motorists from wearing and using the devices while behind the wheel of a car or truck.

On the Google Glass FAQ page, the Mountain View, California company said that the legality of using the gadget while driving “depends on where you are and how you use it.”

They added, “most states have passed laws limiting the use of mobile devices while driving any motor vehicle, and most states post those rules on their department of motor vehicles websites. Read up and follow the law! Above all, even when you’re following the law, don’t hurt yourself or others by failing to pay attention to the road. The same goes for bicycling: whether or not any laws limit your use of Glass, always be careful.”

In other Google Glass news, ZDNet’s Rachel King reported on Tuesday that the company’s Google Glass trade-in program would include a new earbud accessory. “Hopefully this means that the audio quality on the next iteration of Glass will be better,” she said of the mono earbud, which plugs into glass and is an optional attachment.