Google Glass, the new and futuristic wearable computer, is on the technological tear these days. The device includes a Bluetooth headset for use in making and receiving phone calls, and hands-free functions that respond to voice commands, and — for drivers — is a seemingly better alternative to other ways of sending text messages or placing calls while operating a vehicle. Also, a driver wearing the Glass is able to use the GPS and directional system that appears to be a reliable and perhaps more convenient apparatus for navigation.
Dangers On The Road
However one must wonder whether there are dangers on the road when a Glass user is operating both the computer and the vehicle at the same time. Certainly using an interactive device like the Glass while driving is distracting and unsafe to the wearer and other passengers on the road, and other safer options exist for pursuing the device’s practical function for the common driver. This is not to say that Google’s latest cyber-project is nothing short of ever-practical uses, and even stylish: Glass comes in a variety of colors to match the (non-driving) user’s preference.
As of January 2014, three states have drafted laws that ban Glass while driving a vehicle: Delaware, West Virginia, and New Jersey. Although specific laws disallowing the use of the computer while driving do not exist, it is up to the discretion of individual officers as to whether a penalty is warranted.
In some cases, the infraction is that the user is driving with a visible monitor (not to mention a super-interactive computer). This may be owed to the driver’s basic browsing and notifications popping up on the user’s smartphone, since these capture the wearer’s consciousness and concentration during their route. Attention may be paid less to driving and more to conducting tasks on Glass, and in two representative national surveys, it was reported that Americans tend to recognize something unexpected when it comes into their field of view, even while focusing on another task.
While driving, one must always stick to the task at hand. Losing your attention because of unnecessary distractions can be far too costly and risks the well-being of everyone around. For aircraft pilots HUD (heads-up display) screens, those which are transparent and allow the user to simply continue looking forward, are of great use and are not obviously distracting, even as various notifications enter the operator’s vision. These pilots are, however, extensively trained to deal with a multitude of visual elements and other distractions while operating their vehicles– unlike most drivers — and are less subject to similar levels of danger as car drivers.
Often times, being proactive about placing yourself in a less distracting atmosphere while driving can mean a great deal when it comes to protecting the wellness for everyone on the road. Wearing the Google Glass is a practical and beneficial piece of technology for those with attention to spare, but unlike those individuals, drivers must maintain a habit of defensive driving and a sense of focus in sound conditions. Without these, a trip can become high-risk and unpredictable; with them, it can be as simple as from point A to point B.
Amit Gangrade is a blog writer for Driver Physicals. He is a recent alumn from the University of Florida, where he studied anthropology and Spanish.