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How safe is Google Glass for driving?

James A. Martin | Nov. 21, 2013
A California woman's citation for wearing Google Glass behind the wheel raises safety questions about wearing the Internet-connected headset while driving.

In the same Fox News report, David Strayer, director of the University of Utah's Center for the Prevention of Distracted Driving, says that, even though Google Glass wearers can look ahead while driving, glancing at the screen still distracts the eye from the roadway. That's enough to make Google Glass a safety threat, according to Strayer. "Your eyes aren't looking where they need to look."

New technology is often a tempting target for law enforcement in search of new revenue streams, San Diego attorney Mitchell Mehdy told CNN after the Abadie citation. "The traffic law enforcement is coming and saying, 'Wow, we've got this new incredible device and we want our piece too," he says, adding that Abadie's ticket is just the beginning of similar citations.

Google Glass Creates 'Potential Blind Spot,' Concerns for Corporate Execs
Rich Chang, CEO and partner of NewFoundry, a Google Glass app developer, also believes drivers shouldn't be allowed to wear Google Glass. The device's current design "adds a potential blind spot to peripheral vision due to the bulk of the device and the close proximity to the head and eyes," Chang says. "It can also be distracting, especially since it still requires some physical interaction such as finger gestures to access and use some functions. Drivers are already distracted with too many other inputs in the car."

Chang adds that the device's display isn't likely to be in drivers' direct line of sight. To interact with Google Glass, they have to look up or down. "Your eyes aren't primarily focused on the road in front of you."

Google Glass poses too many risks to drivers to be safe, adds David Berkowitz, chief marketing officer for digital and technology agency MRY and a frequent speaker on wearable technology at events such as South by Southwest (SXSW). "Even if Google rolls out a driving mode that disables notifications, there's no way to mandate that drivers will enable those safety features. Glass can trigger so many distractions that drivers need to keep the headgear off."

Abadie's citation should serve as an alarm bell for C-level executives, says George J. Siedel, who teaches business law and negotiation at the University of Michigans Ross School of Business. "They should be concerned about potential company liability in situations where Google Glass might increase the risk of accident."

Picture an employee driving a car on company business and wearing Google Glass. The employee negligently hits another car, injuring both drivers. "As in similar cases where employee-drivers are using cell phones, the other driver could recover damages from the company. The company would also have to pay worker's compensation to the employee," Siedel says. "Company leaders should act quickly to do everything possible to eliminate the use of distractions such as Google Glass and cell phones that might contribute to car accidents."


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