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Lawmakers Seek To Ban Google Glass On the Road 375

Posted by samzenpus
from the leave-the-glasses-off dept.
An anonymous reader writes in with news about a West Virginia bill that would prohibit drivers from "using a wearable computer with head mounted display." Republican Gary G. Howell sponsored the bill in reaction to reading an article on Google Glass and said: "I actually like the idea of the product and I believe it is the future, but last legislature we worked long and hard on a no-texting-and-driving law. It is mostly the young that are the tech-savvy that try new things. They are also our most vulnerable and underskilled drivers. We heard of many crashes caused by texting and driving, most involving our youngest drivers. I see the Google Glass as an extension."
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Lawmakers Seek To Ban Google Glass On the Road

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  • HUD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 25, 2013 @08:55AM (#43269531)

    But some cars have a heads up display... which is basically a car-mounted version of the same thing. Can't we just have an administrative ruling that it falls under driving while distracted, or reckless driving, or whatever the legal term is, and not create a new law everytime someone makes something new?

    Next up, no looking at your wristwatch while driving! It's the new technological menace!

    • Re:HUD (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mjr167 (2477430) on Monday March 25, 2013 @09:08AM (#43269641)
      Because that would require admitting that the problem is between the seat and steering wheel?
    • Re:HUD (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 25, 2013 @09:10AM (#43269659)

      Cars heads up displays don't include emails and google+ messages. Don't be obtuse.

      • Re:HUD (Score:5, Interesting)

        by rioki (1328185) on Monday March 25, 2013 @09:26AM (#43269861) Homepage

        But technically I could run a app that is beneficial to my driving. This week end rented a car and got one with a HUD. It displayed three things, the speed limit, the current speed and the navigation instructions. It "floated" over the hood and I could read the information without taking my eyes off the street. This is VERY beneficial when you are currently doing a maneuver in heavy traffic. It also made the audio queues obsolete. (It had none.) Oh and this implementation of a speed limit indicator works, you see your speed and the speed limit all the time. You really have to willfully be speeding, you can't speed "by mistake".

        The only thing the Google glasses need are a driving mode.

        • by ftobin (48814) *

          Which car is this?

          • Re:HUD (Score:4, Informative)

            by phoebus1553 (522577) on Monday March 25, 2013 @10:15AM (#43270401) Homepage

            While I'm not the OP...

            GM has had an on-again-off-again affair with these things in various levels of interesting. My 98 Bonneville had a basic mode as did a lot of Pontiacs of the era, Grand Prix, Bonneville, Firebird. Various Caddilacs, Corvettes, Camaros, Colorados, Acadias... the list goes on and on in GM. Some did just speed, turn signals and warnings. You could go up into getting radio stations and more information. A lot of the new ones do nav if you've got it.

            Creative google searching will give you BMW and probably more if you can read the steering wheel emblems. Apparently you can get it add on now days too, but that's probably just for things you'd find in the radio... i.e. station info and Nav.

            • by rioki (1328185)

              Exactly BMW 330. And the speed limit detection was totally flawless, the first time I have seen it. Mot solution use a GPS + Map based system and thus don't know about local changes. This system must have some machine vision, because it flawlessly read the signs in the construction areas. The only errors it had when entering the Autobahn, that normally has no speed limit, but a temporary limit. But by the time you are up to speed, the next sign is visible and the system adapts.

          • by rioki (1328185)

            It was a BMW 330. As it was a rental car it had everything maxed out when it came to extras.

        • Re:HUD (Score:4, Funny)

          by Lehk228 (705449) on Monday March 25, 2013 @12:12PM (#43272023) Journal
          Expect HUDs to be banned as well, they are a direct assault on ticket revenue and that will not be tolerated
        • Re:HUD (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Shadowmist (57488) on Monday March 25, 2013 @12:42PM (#43272567)

          But technically I could run a app that is beneficial to my driving. This week end rented a car and got one with a HUD. It displayed three things, the speed limit, the current speed and the navigation instructions. It "floated" over the hood and I could read the information without taking my eyes off the street. This is VERY beneficial when you are currently doing a maneuver in heavy traffic. It also made the audio queues obsolete. (It had none.) Oh and this implementation of a speed limit indicator works, you see your speed and the speed limit all the time. You really have to willfully be speeding, you can't speed "by mistake".

          The only thing the Google glasses need are a driving mode.

          You MIGHT download an app that might be beneficial to your driving.... presuming it makes up for the loss of attention span on what you're supposed to be focusing on.... DRIVING. It is an uncontestable fact that texting, calling on the phone, and browsing your emal on your smartphone, does lead to an increased risk in auto accidents. How would putting this stuff in your face make it any safer? We give our legislatures a deservedly bad rap when they think in terms of technology that's already generations obsolete. We should be giving this guy credit for looking ahead.

      • by mhajicek (1582795)
        They well could. And if Glass is banned while driving I'm sure a phone-HUD link will be just around the corner.
      • Re:HUD (Score:4, Interesting)

        by suso (153703) * on Monday March 25, 2013 @09:30AM (#43269907) Homepage Journal

        HUDs on cars currently are also less intrusive and only take up 5-10% of your viewing area. Google Glass will probably cause people to focus on the road differently just like when you hold your phone to your head it causes you to lose mental focus.

        • Re:HUD (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 25, 2013 @11:05AM (#43271017)

          Google Glass will probably cause people

          Legislation should not be based on "probably" and "maybe" and other shit people are basically pulling out of their asses.

      • by iamwahoo2 (594922)

        I don't think he is being obtuse. The law is not going to specifically ban Google glasses, but any potential head mounted display. There can be no doubt based on years research and real world experience in the military that see-through head mounted displays can significantly improve situation awareness. A ban on head mounted displays not only prevents the use of ones that are bad for driving but any that could also be good for driving.

    • Re:HUD (Score:4, Insightful)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday March 25, 2013 @09:12AM (#43269685) Journal

      I agree that specific-banning every incremental innovation is ugly lawmaking practice(it isn't wrong or unethical in any serious way; but a legal code full of a fuckton of pointless special cases that could have been generalized is no prettier than any other codebase so afflicted).

      However, I'm not with you on the 'All HUDs are created equal" thing. In-car HUDs, while dubiously valuable, have the advantage of being built into cars, with 100% certainty that their users will be driving cars while using them. There is an established body of work on building car controls that are minimally distracting to drivers(sometimes it is even adhered to!). A car HUD is much more likely to adhere to that than is a generic HUD doing god-knows-what.

      Now, nothing prevents a generic HUD from running a set of software displays that would actually be useful to a driver(so banning them in general seems pointless and possibly counterproductive); but it is fair to treat a device that evolved out of the hardware, and use cases, of a smartphone as being distracting until proven innocent...

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Or we could, you know, worry about actual behavior and actual problems instead of perceived imagined nonsense crap like this. I put texting and driving bans in the same category. Unless you also ban other things which are demonstrably as distracting as texting and driving, you're just a reactionary anti technology twerp who doesn't like something because it's popular with people you don't care for.

        Nobody was worried about cell phones when they were so expensive as to only be business tools for certain wel

        • Nobody was worried about cell phones when they were so expensive as to only be business tools for certain well paid professions. It's only when young and less well off people adopted them that the Chicken Little screaming began.

          Yea, obviously it's because the young and "poor people" use them now, and has nothing to do with the effects of mass adoption.... kriminy...

          Meanwhile, we don't ban putting on makeup, shaving, reading printed material, and, worst of all, undisciplined children from cars. The latter, btw, being the direct cause of an accident which caused damage to my car while I was sitting still once. I didn't decide to make it my life's mission to do something about distractions caused by kids in cars, as some of these anti tech crusaders with too much time and too small brains seem to.

          Driving like an idiot while looking at a paper map? That's ok. Do the same thing using a piece of tech to find your way? You need to be arrested or fined because you're a hazard. Please note the hazard is the same either way, it's just what some fools feel about the cause that's different. Yes, I meant "feel" and not "think" because clearly there's no thinking going on.

          Uh, those things are illegal, you know. It's called either Careless and Imprudent or Reckless Driving, depending on where you live. Thing is, all forms of distracted driving are covered by one or both of the aforementioned laws - including distractions based on technology.

          BTW, not a young person with an axe to grind.

          Yes, your insistence that young people using cell phones is why we have laws that pertain to them,

    • Re:HUD (Score:4, Interesting)

      by fiziko (97143) on Monday March 25, 2013 @09:17AM (#43269757) Homepage

      And if I want to use the GPS feature only while driving? I think the best solution would be for Google to add a "lockout" feature, where GPS is the only feature accessible when the speed of the glasses is in excess of some reasonable number. Users could enable or disable this mode, as I can with my normal GPS unit, for the cases where the device is being used by the passenger instead of the driver. Then it falls under a blanket "distracted driving" laws when used inappropriately but is still allowable when used appropriately.

      • by Githaron (2462596)
        What about passengers? Why would you want to disable their Glass?
        • by fiziko (97143)

          What about passengers? Why would you want to disable their Glass?

          The second sentence in my original post reads "Users could enable or disable this mode, as I can with my normal GPS unit, for the cases where the device is being used by the passenger instead of the driver."

      • Yeah, because all those people on the road are using their smartphones "for GPS" while driving now. It's no different than Bit Torrent. While there are valid uses for the technology, most people are using it for willful copyright infringement.

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        I think the best solution would be for Google to add a "lockout" feature,

        Why? If the glasses are recording everything that happens on the road then it will be much easier to start taking people's licenses away.

        Most people would drive a lot better if they thought they were being recorded.

    • by bws111 (1216812)

      In the absense of laws stating precisely what is not legal, your wristwatch example would be reality. If you just have some generic 'no driving while distracted' law, who makes the determination of what is a distraction? The individual cop.

      • by kidgenius (704962)
        You do realize that many states have such "distracted driving" laws, correct? And yes, it is a subjective manner, just like a lot of the enforcement of the law. If you are swerving around the road and the cop notices, it's pretty easy to see that you are driving distracted/recklessly. Who cares what the reason is? It could be because you are eating a cheeseburger, putting on make-up, talking on a phone, or getting road head from your passenger. If you can't drive without being a danger to those around
        • by bws111 (1216812)

          Yes, states have distracted driving laws. And the only time they are used is AFTER an incident has occurred. If you are swerving, you are already breaking a law (failure to maintain lane). However, if you are swerving, the only thing that prevented you from having an accident was luck - there was no-one else there at the same time.

          The purpose of these types of laws is to prevent behavior that is likely to lead to a problem BEFORE you are to the point of swerving or having an accident.

        • by Joce640k (829181)

          If you are swerving around the road and the cop notices, it's pretty easy to see that you are driving distracted/recklessly.

          A good way to prevent this would be to get drivers to wear head-mounted video recording devices.

      • by RevWaldo (1186281)
        Exactly. There are many laws people shake their heads at that aren't outlawing a specific behavior, which is hard to quantify and enforce, but a specific action, which is. Example: there are people who pick through garbage for deposit bottles and cans in NYC, and they all use pushcarts. They'd use a car or a van if they could, but loading garbage set outside directly into a motor vehicle is illegal, fullstop. Why? Because then you get guys in big trucks loading up bundles of paper and cardboard and scrap me
    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      We have a law like that in the UK (driving without due care and attention) but it only sort-of works. There are lots of grey areas that can only be worked out with a slow and expensive court procedure. There is outright abuse as well, like a woman arrested for taking a sip of water while waiting in the traffic lights.

      The official advice is "keep your hands on the wheel at all times". Except, presumably, when changing gear or scratching a distracting itch.

    • by DrXym (126579)
      The difference is that cars are typically showing you information related to your driving whereas your google glasses could be showing you a hilarious cat video.
    • by mathew7 (863867)

      Yeah....but those HUDs are certified by the same lawmakers. And they are implemented by car makers that risk the entire car being delayed because of "too much info" in the HUD.
      As for after-market HUDs, they also should be certified, as laws don't allow anything uncertified between head and windshiled. But these uncertified devices are easier to control (like fines for using them uncertified) because once installed, they are not easily removed (like Google Glasses).

    • I prefer oddly specific laws, this way safer alternatives like road head, always remain legal.

    • Why cant Google design a QWERTY steering wheel and sod it all...what's with all this mincey pixie baby steps to the Darwinian utopia we had planned for the future?

    • by mark-t (151149)

      You are correct, of course... but unfortunately that would require that people actually use the grey matter between their ears to determine whether something might be considered distracting or not, which no small percentage of drivers do not have any real motivation to try to use. "Distracted" driving, by itself, is far too subjective a concept to apply objectively. A driver who is simply daydreaming, for example, can easily be just as big of a danger to others as somebody who is driving intoxicated.

      S

  • by FictionPimp (712802) on Monday March 25, 2013 @08:56AM (#43269537) Homepage

    It could display driving speed, detect emergencies and notify you of them, pop up weather warnings. Overall I see a device with a HUD giving you an advantage driving..

    • by alien9 (890794)
      and pics of cats for sure.
    • by Annirak (181684)

      There go my plans for a LiDAR, RADAR overlay HUD to provide better visibility in snow, fog, low-light, etc. Baby, bathwater both defenestrated.

    • Probably not. If people looked in 2D, then yeah, I could see it, but in reality your eyes have a limited ability to keep multiple things in focus at once. We don't care about that for the most part because we're able to change focus very quickly.

      If a message comes up saying "Slow down, ice ahead", the reality is that you will take your eyes off the road to read the message, even though your eyes will still be pointing in the same direction.

      • by T-Bone-T (1048702)

        That's the beauty of a HUD, you don't actually look at it but through it. If you are focusing on the HUD, you are doing it wrong.

      • Probably not. If people looked in 2D, then yeah, I could see it, but in reality your eyes have a limited ability to keep multiple things in focus at once. We don't care about that for the most part because we're able to change focus very quickly.

        That's a long solved problem [for HUD's], just make the display focus at infinity - that way you don't have to refocus. (Seriously folks, stop and think a minute... while Google Glass is new, HUD's aren't. These are old, long solved problems.)

      • If a message comes up saying "Slow down, ice ahead", the reality is that you will take your eyes off the road to read the message, even though your eyes will still be pointing in the same direction.

        If only there were ways to indicate to drivers in a non-distracting way of conditions regarding their vehicle and surroundings. One might imagine a simple yellow light that blinks 3-4 times, or a pinging tone.

        Why, what havoc would occur if cars broadcast the diagnostic information to the driver to inform them of potential engine trouble, high temperatures, icy conditions, low oil, and other conditions. Drivers simply cannot process that much information and keep from turning into flaming balls of destruction.

        So you turn 'Driving mode on' with your HUD, and it flashes a small dot of light in a non obstructive manner if there is an accident ahead. My smartphone already does this through Waze, and I expect most standalone GPS units will soon as well as they connect into the in-car wifi.

        There are countless ways that current technology can be distracting.

        An easy way to reduce accidents from an already distracting technology? Ban speed cameras. Nothing like watching drivers overcompensate, or swivel their heads around as they are trying to look for the cameras.

        • by Wookact (2804191)
          Proper use of quote tags and/or using the preview function will increase the number of people who will read your post.
      • by 0xdeadbeef (28836)

        We don't care about that for the most part because we're able to change focus very quickly.

        You're confusing depth perception with focus, and no, we don't actually focus all that quickly, and no, the message could be projected in your field of vision as if it were floating well ahead of you, so there would be no focus change. Even if you had to refocus your eyes, you'd still be seeing the road no differently than if you were looking at a bug on your windshield.

        In your common sense anti-Glass rationalizing,

    • This is rather like saying that a mobile phone is an advantage when driving. After all, someone could text you a warning about traffic conditions ahead, or talk you through how to get somewhere, or you could use the camera in the phone to take photos of cars that are being driven dangerously. Yep, mobile phones are the next big advance in driver safety!

      Let's face it: If someone is wearing Google Glass while driving, there's a 99% chance they're using it to watch football, film or porn.

      • Actually you can glance at the message immediately without shifting your vision off the road through a transparent HUD. You'll lose focus and attention, but you retain motion and reflex, which make up greater than 90% of driving anyway: your focus is on a specific area in a specific direction, and your attention is usually mainly ahead; objects shifting out of their stable relative position quickly draw attention. Glancing at your cell phone moves your vision to a relatively large, opaque obstruction tha

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      And if GPS speed > 20kph disable non driving related functions.

      • Sucks for passengers/carpoolers/sluglines/metro/bus riders.

        • by compro01 (777531)

          Sucks for passengers/carpoolers/sluglines/metro/bus riders.

          So? Those don't exist in the USA.~

        • by Wookact (2804191)
          What if it used the camera to determine if you were sitting behind the wheel? Disable for anyone behind the wheel, but leave everyone else alone?
    • HUDs are still legal, and HUD !=HMD.
  • by Nerdfest (867930)

    It seems a bit to reactionary to something that could actually be a bonus. No, people shouldn't be driving while reading email, etc, but I'd much prefer a HUD stype presentation of speed, RPM, direction, vehicle status than looking at the dash. Some cars used to have HUD displays and it worked reasonable well. Likewise, it would be nice to have a record of what happened in the case of an accident, seeing amn accident, or a drunk driver, etc. This seems to be trying to ban the device in general, not how it's

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      This seems to be trying to ban the device in general, not how it's used.

      If you can come up with another way to address their concerns, then perhaps they'll listen. This is a real concern, and I think a valid one. When it comes to something like a copy protection circumvention device then banning the device and not the use is one thing, and when it comes to distraction while driving then something else entirely is happening. The first is unreasonable, you're only taking your own life into your hands. The second is not, because now you've got a chance for your inattention to kill

      • by Phrogman (80473)

        Just mandate an in-car device that detects a google glass headset and redirects all of the display to the car's HUD/device screen instead. Thus your vision is not obscured by the output, but the possible utility of the device is not compromised either.

        Where I am its illegal to operate a cell-phone while driving, unless you have a car mounted hands-free cellphone etc. This would be little different

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Just mandate an in-car device that detects a google glass headset and redirects all of the display to the car's HUD/device screen instead. Thus your vision is not obscured by the output, but the possible utility of the device is not compromised either.

          That would maybe work if the device were included in new cars, and were illegal to disable... But you have to account for people switching cars, and the thing can't just plug into a lighter socket.

  • Somebody should really work on a system where the single occupant of a car could geek out on the internet with all their little gadgets, and still put nobody in danger. Especially Google would benefit from something like that. Oh wait, might this be why it's Google themselves who are working on driverless cars? And we all thought it was just a sideshow to their main business...
  • by oic0 (1864384) on Monday March 25, 2013 @09:03AM (#43269619)
    In reality, it will rarely be used as a HUD. We all know with a fair degree of certainty it will be used for things like email, video, texting, etc... Sure it may have the possibility of being useful, but that is NOT what it will be used for. Just like most cellphones in cars aren't being used for GPS and traffic allerts. People these days are just too distracted while they drive. Most people barely have enough intelligence to safely pilot a vehicle to begin with. Cellphones have made things much worse. Having things distractions constantly put into your line of sight will be ever worse. While people do have rights, on the road you holding the lives of others in the balance so some of your personal freedom takes a back seat. As a motorcyclist, I think texting while driving should get you a DUI and be pursed just as heavily.
  • ...I'd say the lawmaker was worried about the possibility of the Google Glass user recording what transpires at a traffic stop.

    Good thing I'm not paranoid.

    • ...I'd say the lawmaker was worried about the possibility of the Google Glass user recording what transpires at a traffic stop.

      Good thing I'm not paranoid.

      Given that dash cams are 100% legal and start at under $100(typically slightly over if you want GPS included), I'd say that your paranoia needs to use Occam's razor a bit more frequently...

      A device with a cell connection is somewhat more likely to get footage offsite even if you end up assaulting the officer's fist with your face, repeatedly; but you could plaster a car with dash-cams(including the flavor that has the camera module connected by a video cable to a recording box embedded deeper in the vehicle

  • by fygment (444210) on Monday March 25, 2013 @09:14AM (#43269707)

    The Google Glass is likely just the start of the more intimate computing interface industry. So either the industry flops and so no problem, or the industry takes off.

    In the latter case, safety would dictate that either cars be made more autonomous (less dependent on driver control) or that public transport be changed to accomodate. Not sure what you could do for the latter but right now the big disincentive to public transport is lack of reliability, privacy, and cleanliness. Improvements would likely turn the tide. As for funding, if say, half the cost of annual private vehicle ownership were instead put completely in to the public transport infrastructure, wouldn't that be sufficient to fuel and sustain the required changes?

  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sqlrob (173498) on Monday March 25, 2013 @09:15AM (#43269723)

    Enforce the distracted driving laws, done. Covers all current and future technology.

    • +90000 Stop making new laws for every new tech.
    • Enforcing the current distracted driving laws against Google Glass would be difficult - to an observer outside of your car, they look just like regular eyeglasses. The tell-tale "hand to ear" or "eyes to crotch" visual queues are gone. It's much easier to simply pass a law banning their use outright, meaning you can be charged if you are ever pulled over while wearing them.
      Alternatively, laws like these may force Google to put safeguards into the product which detect when you are driving and prevent you fr
      • by sqlrob (173498)

        If they're not weaving or following too closely, are they distracted by the glasses?

  • by neorush (1103917) on Monday March 25, 2013 @09:22AM (#43269823) Homepage
    Once again creating a law for a perceived problem with no data to show it is required. I would think this system would be better, you could Bluetooth your cars info onto the display and it would be less distracting than looking down at the speedometer constantly. Also, this is a good way to kill a cool product like this: http://www.bikebone.com/Heads-Up-Display-for-Motorcycles-FAQs.htm [bikebone.com]
  • If anything, Glass could make texting less dangerous. Texting is currently highly dangerous because you have to completely look away from driving and focus on the phone. And you can't and never will stop such cell phone use from happening and creating accidents because it's way too difficult for law enforcement to see and prove. (Hint: it's not just texting, it's also things like phone GPS.) So we're going to legislate away something that could make it less dangerous? Brilliant.

    If simple distractions really

  • If only there were laws about "dangerous driving" or "reckless driving" or (here in the UK) "Driving without due care and attention" so that the cops could book anybody who clearly wasn't in control of their vehicle, whether they were eating spaghetti, doing their makeup, performing a lewd act with their passenger, coding in FORTH using a Microwriter chord keyboard* or using their quantum degrebulator. Then there would be no need to come up with a new, specific, law for every new gadget that was invented.

    I

  • Maine Statute MRSA 29-A:sec 1921:BR> A person may not operate a motor vehicle equipped with a television viewer, screen or other means of visually receiving a television broadcast that is visible to the operator. This section does not apply to a law enforcement officer using a video camera or other video equipment for law enforcement purposes. [1995, c. 584, Pt. B, 7 (AMD).]
    And sec1923, "Reading while operating a motor vehicle prohibited"
    An operator may not read printed material including but not limit

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