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Google Glass wearer cited for distracted driving

Although it is not yet available to the general public, you have probably already heard of "Google Glass." Internet giant Google has created a wearable computer primarily housed in a pair of glasses. The device essentially lets users view the real world overlayed with images and text (often from the web) displayed in the lenses.

While this new technology may open up a world of possibilities, it is also easy to imagine the dangers it could pose. Notable among these is the increased risk of car accidents caused by distracted driving. In fact, one early user of Google Glass has already been cited for wearing the product while behind the wheel.

In late October, a 44-year-old woman was pulled over and ticketed while driving in Southern California. The law enforcement officer cited her for speeding (80 mph in a 65 mph zone) and distracted driving. Although the law may not have been written with Google Glass in mind, the traffic code makes it illegal to operate a vehicle “if a television receiver, a video monitor, or a television or video screen” is visible.

According to news sources, the woman is planning to fight the distracted driving citation. She argues that although she was wearing Google Glass while driving, it was not turned on. Her trial date is set for mid-January.

Of course, the woman's defense raises several important questions. Why was she wearing non-corrective lenses that also function as a computer if she wasn't using them as such? Based on the wording of the distracted driving statute, does it matter whether or not the device was on? Finally, how would a police officer know the device wasn't on, and can the woman prove that this was the case?

Although most states have laws against texting while driving, some still allow the behavior. And when it comes to general use of handheld cellphones, state laws are a mixed bag. The fact of the matter is that technology tends to advance faster than laws meant to regulate its use.

Therefore, anti-distracted-driving laws need to be written and interpreted in ways that can be applied to potentially distracting gadgets that may not exist yet. Moreover, Americans need to realize that a given form of distracted driving does not need to be illegal for the behavior to be dangerous and foolish. 

Source: The Raw Story, "California woman denies ‘Google Glass’ caused driving distraction," Agence France-Presse, Dec. 3, 2013

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