Well, here we go. A few months ago, a Google Glass tester recorded someone being arrested on the Jersey Shore, and now a California woman has received the first Google Glass-related traffic citation.
Cecilia Abadie was driving around San Diego wearing her Google Glass when she was pulled over. Apparently she was cited for two violations — one for speeding, which is likely what got her pulled over in the first place, and the other for “driving with monitor visible to driver,” and if you look at the citation posted below, you can see where the cop wrote (Google Glass) after noting that infraction.
There’s a law in California that states:
A person shall not drive a motor vehicle if a television receiver, a video monitor, or a television or video screen, or any other similar means of visually displaying a television broadcast or video signal that produces entertainment or business applications, is operating and is located in the motor vehicle at a point forward of the back of the driver’s seat, or is operating and the monitor, screen, or display is visible to the driver while driving the motor vehicle.
In a nutshell, it’s illegal for people to drive if there’s a video screen of any kind playing and visible to them. Makes sense — I wouldn’t want to share the road with someone who’s busy glancing at a computer or whatever the front-seat passenger is trying to watch on DVD. The law seems pretty clear, right?
Ah, but it wouldn’t be a law without exceptions, would it? GPS devices seem to be the most obvious — what else is a GPS if not an operating screen visible to the driver? Mine has this pretty sexy British voice that could definitely add to the distraction. Anyway, the California law exempts mapping and GPS displays, which covers some of the functions available on Google Glass. Google Glass arguably is exempt for another reason — because it has an interlock device that prevents a driver from using it for anything other than GPS and mapping.
Obviously, the Google Glass territory is getting murky — I can see arguments both ways. But here’s the thing: Abadie’s Google Glass wasn’t actually on when she got pulled over. The officer’s problem, though, was that even though it wasn’t on, simply wearing the contraption impeded her vision. Hmm…well, in that case, I can think of a few hairdos, sunglasses, and other accessories for both humans and cars that could impede vision. Hell, if you’re small enough, the steering wheel itself can make it hard to see. The only person who knows if her vision is being affected is the driver, who in this case says it wasn’t.
Google Glass’ FAQ warns that most states have laws against using devices while driving and that users should research the laws in their home states. They do specifically state not to scuba dive with Google Glass, and to “use caution” if you decide to wear your Glass while using a jackhammer. Thanks for the insight, Google!
I’m guessing we’ll see more and more instances such as this, and that at some point in the near future, a judge or two (or nine) will have to make an explicit ruling about where Google Glass fits in with driving and other laws. Abadie posted about her run-in with law enforcement last night and a slew of people have responded with advice, variations interpretations of the law, and indignance. A number of people suggest she fight the ticket, though if she does, she better not show up in court wearing Google Glass.