Monday, 23 June 2014

Ban Google Glass when driving?

Seriously, does anyone think Google Glass is a good idea when driving a car?

Google Glass, which looks like a pair of glass frames with a tiny screen, can be used for browsing the web, reading emails or many other things normally used on computers or smart phones. These are now available here in the UK.

It has become clear today (BBC News website) that “The BBC has learned that the US firm held talks with the Department of Transport ahead of the launch. The DoT had previously raised concerns that the wearable tech could prove a distraction to drivers. That is still the case, but a government spokesman revealed that the search firm was investigating ways to allow drivers to legally use Glass while on UK roads- possibly by restricting the information it displays mid-journey.”

Really? Are drivers not already distracted enough? One thing is certain wearing of Google Glass when driving will not make our roads safer, it will make them much less safe. So why doesn’t the DoT immediately ban wearing these when driving? One can only put this down to yet another failure by the UK Government. That is not a political statement, it is just the truth. Successive Governments seem unable to demonstrate much common sense these days and that is truly worrying.

So if these were allowed, but say with the same restricted information that is allowed by a sat nav / GPS unit, just how will that ever be policed? Only the wearer can see what is being displayed, so nobody will ever be able to check whether the glasses are being used correctly. It is just plain dumb to even consider that people will follow the law and only use them in any restrictive mode.

Do something about this – write to your MP now and express your views! This is how you find out how to contact your MP....

If you are reading this from anywhere else in world, contact your government now!


Dar said...

Completely agree with your sentiments, I can only hope and pray that they do not allow drivers in Canada to use these while driving. We are having a terrible time policing the use of smartphones and other other handheld devices. Our roads are hazardous enough and can not fathom why we are allowing this to happen in most countries, its completely ridiculous.

Richard M said...

Until the self-driving car is available, these type of devices need to automatically shut down when moving....

Things are bad enough already. Laws already in place aren't enforced so why would this be any different.

Canajun said...

Like Dar said, completely agree. But I expect they will be used, legal or not. We have a huge issue with handheld devices here, with their nearly universal use in spite of laws against them. We need tough laws, but more importantly we need higher levels of enforcement.

Sash Walker said...

I was reading an article recently that claimed in the U.S., the DUI fatalities are down to a record low, but distracted driving fatalities have increased 300%. Back in the days that distracted driving meant eating in your car, adjusting the radio, etc., the number of accidents that resulted in fatalities were minimal. Now distracted drivers are THE MOST DANGEROUS aspect to driving, over all others.
Yeah, let's add to that with another distraction.
My opinion isn't that we need more laws (in the U.S.), but to simply apply the laws that exist more effectively. We have laws about distracted drivers, as I'm sure you do in the U.K. This should apply to any thing that is distracting a driver. It seems so damn simple to me!
But what do I know? I'm no politician.
Sash - The Rude Biker Chick

Trobairitz said...

You can't fix stupid.

People are distracted enough when driving as it is. I am sure if they ban them it will only keep the honest people honest.

Hand held cell phone use is banned in Oregon and you see people everywhere on their phones when driving. Laws don't always work.

David Masse said...

It's another step towards ubiquitous iinformation.

Does anyone go for days on end wondering about anything anymore? I don't most people go for much more than a few minutes without Googling to eliminate uncertainty.

Google Glass will be perfectly safe in Google driverless cars.

Until then, good luck.

Charlie6 said...

While I agree with you Gary....the sad fact is that if cellphone and texting use can't be controlled even when banned, the same scofflaws will use google glass while driving and endanger motorcyclists.

Law enforcement may be trying, though I don't see it, and I actually fear texters more than google glass least the glassholes are somewhat looking at the road....the texters are looking down at their "clever prose" as they run into you.

Gary France said...

Most of the comments here relate, understandably, about current laws and how they work in respect to cell phones and how those existing laws are not being upheld. There is a noticeable difference between the UK/Europe and the USA on this matter.

In the UK, there are laws banning the use of mobile phones (as we call them) and these are rigorously upheld by the police, to the point where it has become (almost) socially unacceptable to use one when driving. Yes, some people still break the law and use them, but that (I think) is on a huge decline from say 5 years ago.

From what I have seen and what my US and Canadian cousins have said, the opposite is true in the USA. Despite it being illegal almost everywhere(?) the use of cell phone in cars is increasing and it seems little is being done by the police to uphold the law. Is that really true? I think it is and this is causing thousands of deaths each year on US roads.

HELLO.....! Do something about this America and Canada. As well as complaining on social media sites, complain to your elected representative. Tell them you are not happy that the police are failing in their duty. Tell everyone you know that does it, that you won't tolerate them using a cell phone when you are with them. Tell your family members that do it to stop. If someone sends you a text when driving, tell them you don't want to take the chance you might be the last person they ever text from their car. Tell them it is unacceptable.

You DO HAVE the power to change things, so use it!

Gary France said...

Sash, you are 100% right.

Trobairitz, you really can fix stupid in this respect. Take their licences away if they persistently offend. That is what happens here. The laws on this DO work. It is the people that are meant to be upholding the laws that don't work.

Dar said...


I have been an active voice in my community about cell phones/handheld devices. I was on a radio call in show about the issue and have written several letters to our Provincial and local officials. The funny thing is they all agree there is a problem, but that seems to be where it ends. Local police departments will run blitzes where they look for offenders and then it dies down again. Personally I think if they took a strong stand and made the fines $1000+, impound the vehicle and cell phone, then maybe something will get done. Government is a slow to move on issues, but the key is perseverance, which I have and will continue my fight.

Rex J. Covington said...

I agree with Sash Walker, There are plenty of laws in the books that will take care of it. If only they are enforced.

In Texas It's called unsafe driving!

Great post Gary!

Doug Klassen said...

I'm not sure how much Google Glass will really catch on. There is an undercurrent in the media, especially on some tech oriented sites, where Google Glass wearers are often referred to as "Glassholes." They seem to be seen as rather pretentious, as if the wearer is soooo important that he or she MUST be connected at all times. Pretentious people are always worthy of ridicule.

As for distracted driving enforcement, it's tougher in some places than others. With an ever increasing number of laws being rolled out to control the populace, the police can't possibly enforce them all.

I predict what you'll see down the road is systems built into phones and Google Glass and similar products that inhibit their use while the vehicle is moving. That's been done already by some car companies with their GPS systems, you cannot update or change the routing unless you stop the vehicle.

Gary France said...

Doug, I wondered about the possibility of inhibiting the system from working when moving. I am not sure that will work as it would prevent car passengers, or people on trains from using the system. I love your comments about "Glassholes".

Geoff James said...

Google Glass is yet one more in a long list of distractions available to drivers and riders and and all these distractions scare the heck out of me. What with in-car entertainment, phones, prescription and illegal meds, we're increasingly exposed to serious risk. And that's not even discussing generally poor driving standards!

I enjoy music when I'm on my own in the car but when on the bike, I don't want any distractions so never listen to music or have bluetooth enabled on the phone. I feel vulnerable enough as it is and besides, isn't riding about enjoying the ride with no distractions?

Nikos said...

But then, imagine a head up display that would depict an oil slick on the road ahead of a motorcycle.

Gary France said...

Dar – I think you are absolutely right to keep pressing on this issue. Such big fines are unlikely, but affecting people insurance is. In many places in the world there is a points system for driving offences, so that if you reach a certain number of points, your license is suspended for a period. Having points also affects your insurance rates. I don’t know if there is such a points system in the US or Canada, but it seems to work elsewhere. Simply fining people relatively small amounts doesn’t seem to be the answer.

Gary France said...

Rex – Frustrating, isn’t it! Having good laws is very important, but so is upholding them.

Gary France said...

Geoff – You are spot on. I too am increasingly worried about what drivers might be doing when they should be concentrating on driving. So often we see drivers doing silly things and the results of them. I once bought a bike-to-bike comms system so I could chat with my pals when riding around California, but never used it again – I like as little as possible in my head when riding.

Gary France said...

Nikos – The price to pay for that would be way too high. It really angers me that people can use Google Glass for entertainment when driving, and believe me, they will. The consequences are obvious.

VStar Lady said...

Gary, here in Ontario we do have a demerit point system for offences. Some offences are automatic roadside suspensions, not though, for distracted driving. I do think that listening to my GPS is a safety feature, not having to look down and try to read a map, being able to focus my attention on the traffic all the while being warned about lane changes well in advance so there are no last minute dangerous maneuvers.
Do we need to be connected to social media every minute ... of course not, but the laws won't change that, it's the new culture - our culture has to change that. It has to become socially unacceptable.