Is it legal to use Google Glass while driving? Most states ban texting while driving and a large number also forbid drivers from being able to see television and video screens. But do these statutes apply to Google Glass? Google advises users to check their states’ law and to “Read up and follow the law!” Yet, laws designed for a tangible world are very difficult to apply to virtual screens projected by futuristic wearable technology. In short order, however, police and prosecutors across the country will be called upon to apply outdated distracted driving laws to Google Glass.
This article describes how the plain language of most distracted driving statutes is not broad enough to reach Google Glass. Moreover, even statutes that arguably forbid drivers from “using” Glass are practically unenforceable because drivers could easily claim the devices were turned off or that they were being used for lawful functions – such as phone calls or GPS directions – that are allowed under texting while driving statutes. The lack of a clear prohibition on Google Glass while driving is troublesome. Social science evidence demonstrates that using hands-free devices while driving creates “cognitive tunnel vision” that drastically reduces drivers’ mental focus on the road.
After analyzing the nation’s distracted driving laws and reviewing the social science evidence, this article proposes a statutory framework for effectively banning Google Glass while driving.