Google Glass may still only be available to a select few individuals ahead of its consumer launch in 2014, but that hasn’t stopped the Department for Transport making it illegal to wear a pair while driving.
Consumer tech website Stuff.tv learned the government views Google Glass – a pair of glasses with smartphone functionality built in – as a potential distraction, similar to that of a mobile phone.
“We are aware of the impending rollout of Google Glass and are in discussion with the Police to ensure that individuals do not use this technology while driving,” a Department for Transport spokesman said. “It is important that drivers give their full attention to the road when they are behind the wheel and do not behave in a way that stops them from observing what is happening on the road.”
On the subject of potential punishments, the spokesman added: “A range of offences and penalties already exist to tackle those drivers who do not pay proper attention to the road including careless driving which will become a fixed penalty offence later this year.”
That means drivers caught wearing Google Glass at the wheel could face a fine of £100 (the Government will be increasing the penalty from £60 this month) and three points – the same as if you were caught using a mobile phone or driving without a seatbelt. More serious cases that cause injury or death will obviously yield more severe punishments.
A Google spokesperson responded to the news: “We are thinking very carefully about how we design Glass because new technology always raises new issues. Our Glass Explorer programme, currently only launched in the US, reaches people from all walks of life and will ensure that our users become active participants in shaping the future of this technology.”
374 road casualties occurred in 2011 as a result of mobile phone use.
A ban is hardly surprising when you consider Google Glass makes it possible for the wearer to check emails, browse the web, check Facebook and Twitter and even take photos. While the functionality is largely controlled by voice, research has shown that even the use of text-to-speech hands-free kits can reduce a driver’s reaction times.