- At least eight states are considering legislation to ban the use of Google Glass and other wearable computers while driving.
- Advocates of Google Glass say it is actually safer for drivers than looking down at navigation screens or handheld devices.
- Some lawmakers and other opponents feel Google Glass is just one more distraction on the road.
ANNAPOLIS, Maryland — Google Glass hasn't even been fully deployed to consumers yet, but the wearable computer is already under legislative assault in at least eight U.S. states, especially when it comes to using the device while driving.
While no states have actually passed legislation banning Google Glass while driving, those considering such action include Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, West Virginia and Wyoming.
In the meantime, some automakers are embracing Google Glass. Owners of the 2015 Hyundai Genesis will be able to connect with their vehicle using wearable devices such as Google Glass. Hyundai plans to launch a Blue Link Glassware application next year with the 2015 Genesis.
But the Korean automaker says the app to synch Google Glass with the Genesis will only work with pre-drive operations.
Google Glass is a tiny computer in an eyeglass frame that uses a prism to project images just above and to the right of the wearer's field of vision The device offers many features of a smartphone, allowing users to access e-mail, take pictures and video, browse Web sites, and share on social media, all hands-free and by voice command.
Google and other proponents of Glass see it as an improvement over handheld devices, and they believe it offers a safer alternative while driving than fumbling for buttons and looking down at navigation screens or mobile phones. Opponents, however, are unconvinced. They view Glass as yet another distraction on the road.
So, even though the device is still in the testing stage — through the Glass Explorer Program, in which consumers can apply to get one for $1,500 — lawmakers have begun taking action to curb its use while driving.
The first state in which legislation was introduced to ban the use of "wearable computers with head-mounted display" by drivers of moving vehicles was West Virginia (HB 3057) in March 2013. Delaware (HB 155) and New Jersey (A4146) were next, in June, and Illinois (SB 2632) followed in December.
In January 2014 bills were introduced in Missouri (HB 1123), New York (A08360) and Wyoming (SF 0035). The most recent state in which such legislation was filed is Maryland (HB 1281) on February 7, 2014.
All legislation is pending, but in the meantime a case was dismissed last month against a California woman who was ticketed for wearing Google Glass while driving. The case was dropped for lack of proof that Glass was actually turned on as she was driving.
Still, since the case began making national news in the fall, some of the more recent legislation has been worded to prohibit "wearing" such a device, as opposed to "using" it.
Google isn't taking the legislative attacks lying down. It has reportedly sent lobbyists to at least three states — Delaware, Illinois and Missouri — to convince lawmakers that Google Glass should not be banned for use by drivers of moving vehicles.
Edmunds says: The specs on Goggle Glass are impressive, but we'll keep our eyes peeled for news on the pending legislation.