Google Lobbying To Block Distracted Driving Laws Against Glass

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Google is swinging its hefty lobbying power at state lawmakers who could ban Glass while driving. Google is lobbying officials in at least three U.S. states (Illinois, Delaware and Missouri) to stop proposed restrictions on driving with headsets such as Google Glass, “marking some of the first clashes over the nascent wearable technology,” reports Reuters, who broke the story.

Google is not denying Reuters’ reports, writing in a statement, “We think it is important to be part of those discussions.”

In supporting these lobbies, Google wants to blunt a growing movement against its controversial wearable device. For instance, New York assemblyman Félix Ortiz wants to ban Google Glass while driving, calling face computers “extremely dangerous technology.”

In a more high-profile case, a California woman was ticketed for driving while wearing Glass, but later found not guilty.

Google’s political authority should not be underestimated. In California, its local political muscle helped pressure legalized pilots for self-driving cars.

Within the research community, there is conflicting evidence about whether drivers can multi-task while driving, even if their eyes are on the road. With Google Glass, every action is eyes forward. But, unlike talking into a Bluetooth speaker, users still have to shift their focus away from the road to look at maps, messages or calls.

There are also efforts to make driving safer with Glass. One app, DriveSafe, alerts users when the device notices them drifting off to sleep.

Perhaps Google Glass is better than peering down at an occasional text — but perhaps not. And the consequences here could literally be a matter of life and death.

Image by Flickr user Robert Scoble under a CC BY 2.0 license