With Google (News - Alert) Glass recently making the rounds in the tech community, there are more than a few people eager to get their hands on this new life-altering technology. Some of those people can even be found in West Virginia, where reports have recently emerged saying that the West Virginia Legislature is already taking steps to ban it, in at least some cases.
Those steps, however, aren't universal; a message from Gary G. Howell, a Republican legislator in West Virginia, said that a recent "Technically Incorrect" article on the Google Glass led him and his colleagues to draft legislation calling for a ban on Google Glass while driving. When asked for a note of clarification on this topic, Howell elaborated, saying that while he personally thought such devices would be a large part of the future, using such devices while driving could be a serious problem.
Indeed, according to Howell's response, the West Virginia Legislature had already spent quite a bit of time on a bit of legislation forbidding texting and driving. The underlying belief was that most people who use text messaging are younger people, and since these are also the people who are most likely to be the least skilled behind the wheel--owing mainly to a lack of practice, impossible for young people to get because of their youth--removing the distraction of texting while driving would help improve concentration and driving performance. The same logic is being applied to the Google Glass headset, as the newest legislation calls for driving while "using a wearable computer with head mounted display" to be illegal.
Howell further asserted that his political beliefs allow him to comfortably make such laws, calling himself a "libertarian," asserting that "government has no business protecting us from ourselves" and that "it does have a duty to make sure I don't injure or kill someone else." Google Glass, Howell continues, falls into that category as he explains "when I choose to use the Google Glass and cross the center-line of the road because I'm reading a text, then my actions affect someone else."
Naturally, at this point, opinions begin to differ. After all, one of Google Glass' biggest uses is its ability to offer projections of maps and relevant directions, which are highly useful in a car and usually kept to devices out of the normal field of vision. Some would even say that the heads-up display is better, as it actually prevents distraction by keeping eyes permanently on the road, instead of looking to a side display to see mapping data. However, Howell's bill would eliminate that option completely, and not just for the younger drivers who may have a problem with dealing with distraction, but for everyone.
Additionally, there are issues of privacy; when one is wearing a Google Glass headset, it's not exactly easy to tell if it's on and operating, or if it's off, especially when it drives by a police officer at 55 miles per hour or so. Google Glass' video recording may come into play as well, as it did at Seattle's 5 Point Bar just recently, especially in regard to the issue of traffic stops by police.
While it's easy to see both sides of this issue--even Howell isn't sure that this bill will pass--it's clear that Google Glass represents a thrilling and potentially dangerous future for us all. Just what will be done about that danger part, though, remains to be seen.
Edited by Brooke Neuman
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