This post originally appeared on IEEE Spectrum’s Tech Talk blog.
Drivers caught wearing Google Glass behind the wheel won't escape the long arm of the law in the United Kingdom. The U.K.'s Department of Transport is already working with police to prevent use of Google's augmented reality display on the road—even though the device won't go on sale for most people until 2014.
The U.K. move to block use of Google's smart glasses while driving comes in addition to existing penalties for using mobile phones without hands-free accessories, according to ZDNet. It's unclear whether the head-mounted glasses would fit under the existing law or a new law, but the U.K. already plans to raise fines for careless driving behaviors from £60 to £90 (about US $91 to $136).
Only U.S. members of Google's Explorer program can currently buy the $1,500 Explorer edition of the smart glasses. U.S. lawmakers in West Virginia have also aimed to block use of Google Glass among drivers in their own state legislature bill, but won't likely pass the bill until 2014.
The spirit of such laws follows in the wake of legislation banning texting or other handheld phone use while driving, given that such activities have been proven to increase the risks of an accident on the road. Even voice-activated systems used for dictating an email or text message—or hearing the messages read aloud to the driver—can worsen driver distraction. (That's a serious problem when more than half of all new cars are expected to have voice recognition systems.)
Both lawmakers and researchers may also want to consider the possibly distracting effects of augmented reality displays being developed for the windshields of cars—something not all that different from Google's smart glasses. Allowing cars to have windshield displays showing emails or text messages might be just as bad as wearing smart glasses.
TODAY IN SLATE
I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.
Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.
After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales
Hidden Messages in Corporate Logos
If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter
Giving Up on Goodell
How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.