This guest post is from the Estey & Bomberger law firm.
If you have a look at California resident Cecilia Abadie’s Google+ page, the first thing you will see is a post of a traffic ticket she received for wearing her Google Glass while driving. Although Google Glass is not yet open for sale to the general public, around 10,000 ‘explorers’ purchased the wearable tech earlier this year. State legislators have taken notice, and have already initiated legislation that would ban motorists from wearing the glasses while driving in order to avoid a greater chance of accidents on the road.
In Abadie’s case, the police officer that pulled her over cited California Vehicle Code Section 27602, which prohibits driving a car if a video screen, or any other similar means of visually displaying a video signal that produces entertainment or business applications, is located in the vehicle at a point forward of the back of the driver’s seat. Although traffic laws vary state by state, many have wide-ranging laws that attempt to stop distractions while driving and ban monitors in cars.
Google Glass Laws – Unanswered Questions
Although these laws could certainly apply to Google Glass, Illinois, Delaware, New Jersey, and West Virginia have introduced specific legislation that would ban Google Glass while driving.
But, where does Google Glass fall on the spectrum of technology that could potentially distract a driver? Is it as unsafe as using a cell phone, or is it more similar to using GPS? In other words, what should be considered when creating legislation for drivers using this new technology?
Legislators, for their part, are probably not only concerned that pop-up applications could distract motorists but also that drivers may be tempted to check Facebook or watch Youtube videos instead of keeping their eyes on the road. Google Glass advocates, on the other hand, argue that a voice-activated screen within a driver’s field of vision is actually safer than glancing downward at a GPS device or checking the speed on a dashboard.
Enforcement is yet another issue. While it is clear that watching Youtube videos on Google Glass while driving should be prohibited, the line between using GPS on your dashboard and using GPS on Google Glass is a thin one. From a law enforcement officer’s perspective, however, there is no way to tell what programs a driver is using on Google Glass. Contrast this with cell phone use, where police officers at least have some opportunity to see whether a driver is texting, making a phone call, or watching a video.
Finally, context, and how courts define using Google Glass within the context of driving, will play a huge role in deciding where it can be used. What if a driver is wearing Google Glass but it is turned off? What if the courts consider Google Glass a hands-free cell phone accessory – an accessory that is legal in most states? What if a driver is using Google Glass because she is disabled?
Hopefully, at least some of these questions will be addressed when Cecilia Abadie has her day in court. Although technology is rapidly changing and advancing in society today, there has yet to be an effective replacement for keeping your eyes on the road. If you or someone you love has been involved in an auto accident, contact a California car accident injury attorney today.