Google Glass ban for drivers wise approach


Drivers should drive.

Yet, given all the distractions of life — including constant access to information, entertainment and more on high-tech devices — driving a vehicle has become, well, a secondary thought to some. Driving is a bother.

It limits the time people can email, text and talk to each other.

State legislatures, including Washington’s, have made it illegal to drive while texting or talking with a cellphone held to the ear. Nevertheless, distracted driving continues to be a serious and deadly problem.

And it could get a lot worse.

Google has come out with glasses that allow wearers to access and view the Internet and take photos with literally a blink of an eye. Google Glass has the potential to garner billions in profit.

Google is pitching its eyewear device hard, hoping to market the glasses specifically for driving. It is working with carmakers to integrate the technology with their vehicles.

Google, of course, argues that Google Glass will help drivers avoid road hazards and would be less distracting than smartphones when used properly.

That’s difficult to believe. Smartphones aren’t always used properly, so why would anyone believe glasses that project email in front of your eyes would be used properly? Do we really want people watching movies or cat videos in control of a 4,000-pound car going 70 mph?

Given death or permanent injury are likely outcomes for misusing high-tech devices while driving, it is essential steps are taken to limit the use of Google Glass for now.

Wisely, six state have banned or are considering banning Google Glass for drivers. Washington and Oregon should jump on board.

“These ban bills could limit the marketability of Google Glass,” said Richard Bennett, a visiting scholar at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute who coinvented Wi-Fi. “Driving is certainly one of the premier applications for Glass.”

And these ban bills could, more importantly, also limit disaster.

Advances in technology move faster — far faster — than laws. Cellphones and smartphones were already in use when it became obvious that multi-tasking while driving was dangerous. Laws were put in place to limit the behavior, but many foolishly cling to the practice (convincing themselves that their texting while driving skills are better than others.

Getting ahead of Google Glass (and the similar products that are sure to follow) is a sign society is starting to accept the need to put human safety ahead of advances in technology.


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