Google Glass next deadly distraction for drivers?

As one legal loophole is closed today in terms of texting and accessing information on mobile phones while driving the AA is looking ahead at other electronic gadgets that may need to be legislated against in future road traffic bills.

During our last online poll conducted in March we spoke to over 16,500 people about Google Glass and whether they think they’ll be the next deadly distraction for drivers.  Expected to come to market in the very near future, Google Glasses are light weight computerized glasses which feature a thumbnail sized transparent video display which allows the wearer to make calls, search the internet and check emails via voice command.

Legislation that comes into effect today in relation to mobile phones allows the use of hands free kits while driving only if voice activated.  While Google Glass will also be voice activated it will have a visual element given the video display.

“Tomorrow’s legal changes are far from the last word on technology in cars.” Says Director of Consumer Affairs Conor Faughnan. “Our first mobile phone ban came in 12 years ago, when smart devices & internet phones were unheard of. Technology is moving faster than the law and there is no doubt that there will be more changes in the future. Google Glass is one development but the over-riding principle is that you cannot use any technology in a stupid and dangerous way. That is as true for a razor or lipstick as it is for the latest smart device.”

While not yet on sale, 54% of those we polled expressed a belief that all road users should be banned from wearing Google Glass when they do become available.  A further 18% said that judging by phone use drivers in Ireland will wear them even if they aren’t supposed to.  19% said they’d reserve judgement for the time being while 5% said they’d try them out themselves before making up their minds.

While we’re against anything which unnecessarily adds to driver distraction, like many of our poll recipients, we feel we cannot take a stance on any technology which isn’t yet launched.

One Californian based “Google Glass Explorer,” those recruited by the internet giant to trial the technology pre launch, was given a ticket for driving while wearing the device last year.  She was however subsequently cleared of the offence as there was no proof beyond reasonable doubt that the device was in operation.

“We are technology junkies, addicted to connectivity.” Says Faughnan. “Irish people especially can be almost irrationally determined to stay online. As drivers we have simply got to learn to set that aside when driving and concentrate on the task in hand.”

Regarding the current new piece of legislation on mobile phone use Faughnan says: “Everyone knows that using a phone while driving is dangerous but there’s that feeling that you’re missing out if you don’t read or respond to that text or email straightaway.  We hope the severity of the punishment and enforcement of the same gives drivers the nudge that so many evidently need to put their phones away and give the road their full attention.”

End

Notes to the editor

They should be banned for all road users – motorists, motorcyclists, cyclist and pedestrians. 54%
I’ll reserve judgement until they are fully tested. 19%
Judging by phone use, I think drivers will use them even if banned while driving. 18%
I’m not sure. 5%
I hope to try them out and make up my own mind. 5%