THE LONDON METROPOLITAN POLICE has confirmed that wearing Google Glass while driving constitutes an offence for UK drivers.
The news follows a report yesterday of a Google Glass Explorer in California who was pulled over and ticketed for wearing a Google Glass headset while driving.
Cecilia Abadie was driving in the San Diego area when she was stopped for speeding, allegedly for traveling 80mph in a 65mph zone. The officer also cited California Vehicle Code section 27602, noting on the speeding ticket the addition offence that she was "driving with monitor visible to driver (Google Glass)".
Ms Abadie claims that her Google Glass headset was switched off anyway, and she plans to contest the ticket after receiving support from the Google Glass Explorer community, which pointed out that California Vehicle Code section 27602 states that there are exemptions, if such a monitor provides information relevant to the journey, like directions or traffic statistics, for example.
Google Glass could become a legal minefield. After we reported this week that Google Glass will support prescription lenses, it will be possible to argue that it is necessary to wear them. How do you prove they were on or off? How can an officer know without a doubt what was on the screen at the time? Would the rules still apply if you were a passenger in one of Google's driverless cars, as technically you would still be the driver for insurance purposes?
The INQUIRER decided to cut to the chase. There are plenty of Glass Explorers in the UK. We wonder, where do they stand legally?
We contacted the Metropolitan Poice, where chief constable Suzette Davenport, National Policing Lead for Roads Policing, said, "Regulation 109 of the Construction and Use (motor vehicle) Regulations makes it an offence to drive a motor vehicle on a road if the driver can see whether directly or by reflection any cinematographic apparatus used to display anything other than information about the state of vehicle, to assist the driver to see the road ahead or adjacent to him/her or to navigate to his/her destination."
So the message is fairly clear. It's no to driving while wearing Google Glass eyewear.
She also added, "Those who breach the regulations face prosecutions."
A spokesman for the Department for Transport told us that, at present, because no legislation exists regarding Google Glass, it is up to the police to interpret the existing laws as they see fit, however its position is that it sees Google Glass as a "significant threat" to road safety.
The spokesman said, "Drivers must give their full attention to the road, which is why it has been illegal since the 1980s to view a screen whilst driving, unless that screen is displaying driving information.
"There are no plans to change this and we have met with Google to discuss the implications of the current law for Google Glass. Google are anxious their products do not to pose a road safety risk and are currently considering options to allow the technology to be used in accordance with the law."
It seems then, in the unimpeded eyes of the state, the message is clear. But the rules are far from cut and dried on this issue. As in the US, the advent of new technology is outstripping the speed of the lawmakers, and we think it won't be long before we see a similar wrangle in UK courts. µ