Google Glass and Driving: Safe or Insane?

Brandon Dimmel's picture

Should you be allowed to use high-tech Google Glass spectacles while driving? It's an ongoing debate, and now Google itself is finally weighing in on the issue.

Google Glass is a wearable technology that is connected to the Internet. In essence, it's like a hands-free smartphone in the shape of eyeglasses; it allows users to take high-definition (HD) pictures, record HD video, and instantly share recorded content with friends and family using various social Internet platforms, such as Google+, Facebook, and similar.

Among many other features, Google Glass also includes the ability for the wearer to plot a route. In essence, it's like wearing a global positioning system (GPS) device on your head. (Source:

Controversy Swirls Around 'Glassing' While Driving

The Google Glass GPS functionality seems ideal for heading out on the road. However, there's been a lot of controversy swirling around Google Glass and its use behind the wheel.

Shortly after Google Glass was unveiled, lawmakers in West Virginia openly discussed introducing legislation that would ban state residents from using the spectacles while driving. The issue has stalled for the time being, but those same lawmakers say the matter is hardly finished.

West Virginia is not alone in questioning the safety of 'Glassing' while driving. Several state governments and law enforcement agencies have expressed concern that using such an interactive device will hinder rather than help the act of piloting a vehicle.

In one notable case, a San Diego policeman issued a distracted driving ticket to a woman wearing Google Glass spectacles. The woman fought the measure and won her case because the policeman could not prove the spectacles were turned on when he issued the ticket.

Google Pressures Lawmakers to Dismiss Anti-Glass Driving Laws

Now, it appears Google is trying to make sure police are discouraged from ticketing Google Glass users in the future.

According to Illinois state senator Ira Silverstein, he's been visited by Google representatives hoping to prevent lawmakers from introducing legislation that restricts the use of Google Glass by motorists.

Google has acknowledged that it has entered into these kinds of discussions with lawmakers. In a recent statement, the firm suggested that officials simply need to realize that Google Glass won't distract drivers. In fact, Google suggests that using the device could actually help save lives.

"Technology issues are a big part of the current policy discussion in individual states," Google says. "We think it is important to be part of that discussion and to help policymakers understand new technologies including Glass."

They went on to note that "[Google] Glass is currently in the hands of a small group of Explorers, but we find that when people try it for themselves they realize that Glass is not meant to distract, but rather connect you more with the world around you."

Google Glass Makes Driving Safer, Says User

There are many people who agree that Google Glass does not distract.

Technology expert Chris Barrett recently told CNET that he used his Google Glass spectacles while driving for an astounding 2,500 miles. In the end, he felt sure that the hardware made driving safer. (Source:

"I know for a fact that Google Glass will save lives," Barrett said. He went on to suggest that Google may try to accommodate lawmakers' concerns by introducing a special "Google Glass Car Mode" that restricts access to more distracting applications.

What's Your Opinion?

What do you think about Google Glass? Do you agree that Google Glass can make driving safer, or do you feel the exact opposite? What are the most serious concerns that you have about privacy when it comes to others wearing Google Glass? Lastly, is Google the right company to introduce this type of in-car technology, or would you prefer it come from an automotive firm, or does it matter either way?

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steve1's picture

Why is it that whenever there is a new technology - any new technology - the Luddites come out of the closet with projections of disaster, malfeasance, loss of liberties, or all of the above, and insist on laws to protect the masses from the scourge of progress.

It's predictable. It's inevitable.

I look forward to the day that I can use the Glass technology as a heads-up display so that I do not have to keep glancing at the GPS while driving. (It would be a lot easier than wearing bifocals.) Imagine working on your car and seeing the detailed instructions highlighted for you on the glasses. (How do I remove the MAF sensor?) Imagine making a speech or presentation with the Glass as a teleprompter. Imagine a surgeon looking at an MRI overlaid on your body as the cancer is being excised. No, the Luddites only see someone watching a movie instead of the road, so they want to make wearing them while driving illegal for everyone.


hrsdad's picture

so steve1, what is YOIUR solution to the idiots who DO WATCH movies or Facebook News Items or many other wonderful sites available on the 'net while they drive a 3000 lb missile? it takes only a fraction of a second of distraction to lose complete control of the vehicle and kill a pedestrian. how do YOU propose to prevent those things from happening? just because it is NEW TECHNOLOGY does not mean it is GOOD technology or useable technology or even the RIGHT technology. in its time, the splitting of the atom was breakthrough technology, yet I think it might be just a little dangerous to allow that ability in the public arena, don't you?

it seems to me, after having been in the front of or alongside of most advances in technology since 1980, that there are some advances that do NOT lend themselves to a safe environment and there are others that enhance our lives completely. so to use the term "Luddites" to disparage those you disagree with is counter-productive. it would be better to explain WHY you think it is okay to wear these "glasses"!

Boots66's picture

Sorry steve1 - you will not get any agreement from me - Like my Subject line - You cannot properly be driving which requires 110% of your attention, when you have some major distraction happening - Thus many jurisdictions have Distracted Driving Laws -
Maybe there is a reason - Like the English girl who killed a pedestrian because she was too busy texting!!
Interesting article on Google Glass. Not to say they are not a good idea, but they have their place! - Driving is not one of them!
Disappointing to see Google itself has not had the parts to step up to the plate in the name of safety and push for people NOT to wear the glasses, at inappropriate times.
Too bad that officer's distracted driving case didn't have an equally enthusiastic judge who should have approved the ticket - It is no different then those on their cell phone while driving - I live in Alberta, Canada but have seen it across Canada and the USA on many trips; lane swerving back and forth, missing stop signs and you
name it, with cell phones in use when driving. You are going to tell me these will be any better - Trying to understand your GPS on your dash for many has been a bad distraction as well - Now you want them on Google Glasses and you won't lose your concentration for driving? The world will only miss you when you get killed in an accident - NOT if you just disconnect for a short trip across town! Got a longer trip, then get a paper copy of a map and look at it while you are off the road and figure out your route!