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Google Fighting Distracted Driver Laws

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the think-of-it-as-driving-on-hard-mode dept.

Google 226

Rambo Tribble writes "Reuters reports Google has initiated lobbying efforts to stymie attempts by some states to enact distracted driver laws aimed at wearable technologies, such as Google Glass. 'Google's main point to legislators is that regulation would be premature because Google Glass is not yet widely available, the state elected officials say. Illinois state Senator Ira Silverstein, a Chicago Democrat who introduced a Google Glass restriction bill in December, responded that it was clear the merchandise was heading for the broader public.' Given the toll on our highways shown to arise from distracted drivers, is this responsible corporate behavior to protect their product, or an unethical endangering of lives?"

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226 comments

Bill specifically about Glass is a bad idea... (5, Interesting)

Kenja (541830) | about 2 months ago | (#46337517)

However general legislation against using digital devices can be done right. The issue we start to run into is things like do touch screens built into the dashboard count or windscreen HUDs like what BMW has in the works.

Re:Bill specifically about Glass is a bad idea... (2, Insightful)

Lisias (447563) | about 2 months ago | (#46337583)

No. Bill specifically about Google Glass is an "excellent" idea.

Make a bill general enough, and the Makers will join forces to fight it.

Make a bill to every single one, one by one, and you will have to handle just one each time: you will have more profit opportunities this way,

(you don'y think they're *really" concerned about safety, do you? They want the money)

Re:Bill specifically about Glass is a bad idea... (2)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 2 months ago | (#46338079)

but bills targeting (or benefiting) specific people/companies/tech/etc. are generally considered illegal no?

The issue here, as always, is training people to use new technology properly. We simply don't. We expect everyone to implicitly know when they shouldn't do something. As evidenced by the texting and driving, people aren't making proper choices. It is perfectly reasonable to text while stopped at a light, not so much while moving. (and yes arguments can be made about any situation).

Since texting is frequently compared to drunk driving - here's a good example - It's perfectly LEGAL to drive with alcohol in your system. It's just 'how much' that's the issue.

Training to get a license certified to use a technology 'like' Google Glass is the answer. Cops will be using it eventually and they will most certainly be trained on how it interacts with their driving (just as they are for the laptops, radios, etc that they have going in the vehicle while driving today).

Re:Bill specifically about Glass is a bad idea... (1)

lgw (121541) | about 2 months ago | (#46338591)

but bills targeting (or benefiting) specific people/companies/tech/etc. are generally considered illegal no?

We have constitutional protection (pause for laughter) against Bills of Attainder - you can't write a law that targets a specific person or group for fines or other punishment. Justice in individual cases belongs in the judicial branch, not the legislative branch.

Of course, when the Congress passes a law specifically to take back 90% of bonuses paid to banking executives receiving bailouts during the crisis, no one objected, because we seem to care more about the emotion of the moment than slow-but-constant erosion of important limits on government power.
 

Re:Bill specifically about Glass is a bad idea... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46337783)

I'm not so sure I agree. I have not used Google Glass and I have not read a whole lot about it, but isn't it visually contextual, as in it can recognize certain things as it comes into the field of view? Automatically? Can Glass be modified to recognize when it's in a vehicle and somehow be designed to enhance the driving experience and safety?

To me, what BMW is doing and what Google is doing calls for safety standards, not safety regulations. A better bill in my opinion would be something that empowers the NHTSA to hire software people (I'm almost certain they do not have the right people to understand what BMW and Google are doing, it's too new) to help build out design standards for these kinds of things with an eye towards safety and perhaps in a way that can really do some good. Give them the funding to run some SBIRs or research grants that allow people to study this; maybe they can get the bull by the horns before it's out of the gate and provide opportunity as well as safety.

Of course, this is asking the government to be proactive which is about as likely as the Second Coming, but still, one can hope.

Re:Bill specifically about Glass is a bad idea... (1)

koan (80826) | about 2 months ago | (#46337995)

I have not used Google Glass and I have not read a whole lot about it

Which is why the rest of your musing are so absurd, you still have to look at the "screen".

Re:Bill specifically about Glass is a bad idea... (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 2 months ago | (#46338153)

What he seems to understand, and you don't, is that by definition Google Glass is a heads up display. The very thing automakers have been implementing for years with speed projected on the window.

Heads up is always better. Of course the clutter of that interface is certainly the main point. But just like some phones have 'driving' apps that limit what you can do with your phone as well as provide quicker/easier access to the things you do need to do (like GPS), Google Glass can very plausibly be a great addition to driving.

Imagine your field of view showing when you're starting to deviate from the lane? It could flash in your eyes or even vibrate if it detects your head nodding, etc. Lots of possibilities for improving the safety of driving...as well as dangers.

Training and licensing so we get qualified people doing this is the issue.

Re: Bill specifically about Glass is a bad idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46338681)

You have to look at the screen to use it, it is not heads up in the sense of being able to see both road and screen.

Re:Bill specifically about Glass is a bad idea... (4, Insightful)

koan (80826) | about 2 months ago | (#46338725)

You don't get it, a heads up display is projected on to your field of vision, with Glass you have to look at the screen or at the road.

So not "heads up" at all, unless of course you meant "my heads upright but I'm still a distracted Glasshole putting everyone around me in danger"
Then yes.
Face it it's bad tech.

Re:Bill specifically about Glass is a bad idea... (1)

halltk1983 (855209) | about 2 months ago | (#46337985)

Imagine if it was smart enough to work with you while driving. Highlight things coming out, or the road you're supposed to turn on when using GPS, keep a feeder of speed limits, and hold a clip of video for use in analyzing fault during accidents. Indicators around pedestrians, red lights, traffic control signs. Basically things to make you more aware of the road, instead of distract you from it. And the coup de grace: if you're in the driver's seat it blocks out the screen of your phone or tablet.

Re:Bill specifically about Glass is a bad idea... (1)

bigpat (158134) | about 2 months ago | (#46338065)

"against using digital devices"... so analog devices are okay then?

I know what you are saying, but you are having the same problem as legislators will in coming up with good language for something like this. The evidence is pretty compelling that people are more distracted by other people in the car than by people they are talking to on the phone. But we accept one risk as natural while people don't accept the other risk as being natural.

I think it is clear that it isn't risk that is being compared but rather social norms. It is socially acceptable and natural to have a conversation with someone else in the car and would be weird to not talk to someone sitting next to you even though that small talk puts both people's lives in greater jeopardy.

I think it is pretty clear that Google is right in that these efforts are not based on the relative risk of distracted driving using a heads up device... in fact there is probably more than ample evidence that using a heads up display mitigates the risk compared with looking at a heads down in-dash display or other dash mounted or hand held display while operating a vehicle.

Re:Bill specifically about Glass is a bad idea... (1)

phobos512 (766371) | about 2 months ago | (#46338147)

There've been HUDs in vehicles since the 90s. Displaying tach, speedo, radio stations, etc. BMW is hardly working on anything new.

Re:Bill specifically about Glass is a bad idea... (4, Insightful)

sunderland56 (621843) | about 2 months ago | (#46338157)

Entire text of a correctly done bill here: "The use of portable electronic devices while driving a motor vehicle is prohibited".

That would ban cell phones, texting devices, google glass, and similar - but not prohibit anything built in to the car.

Re:Bill specifically about Glass is a bad idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46338219)

It would also ban standalone GPS and using a phone as GPS. I use my phone in GPS mode, attached to the windshield in a similar manner as a GPS device. A law like that would require me to drive while reading a physical map.

Re:Bill specifically about Glass is a bad idea... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46338287)

> A law like that would require me to drive while reading a physical map.

No, it would require you to keep your motherfucking mitts off the device while you were moving. You can still listen to the GPS, and you could still program it while you are not on the goddamned highway doing 75 MPH, you nitwit.

Re:Bill specifically about Glass is a bad idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46338599)

Couldn't use be defined as having a GPS application running or even having a GPS unit turned on? Guess you could add an exemption for hands free use....

Re:Bill specifically about Glass is a bad idea... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46338313)

Riiight. Because clearly everybody that drove before 10 or 15 years ago was reading a map while driving. Yes, there were a few people that did this - they were then known (as they are now) as 'morons', the same as people who have to be looking at a fucking GPS to get anywhere.

Re:Bill specifically about Glass is a bad idea... (1)

anagama (611277) | about 2 months ago | (#46338303)

That's kind of myopic.

Imagine glasses that discretely display your speed to the side of your field of view -- instead of looking down to check your speed, you don't have to take your eyes off the road. Other data about the road ahead could be displayed too. More awesome, the device could black out the intense points of oncoming headlights. I would love that, rather than having to look off to the side of the road (which is fine for staying in the lane, but not for seeing hazards ahead), I could continue to watch the road without being blinded.

Plus, your bill is too broad. Why should a GPS unit attached to the dash be treated differently from one built into the dash. The one on the dash is better from a usability standpoint because the driver doesn't have to look down as far, thus keeping more of the road in view. Of course, there are other things too -- a pacemaker is an electronic device. On the silly end, so are heated socks.

Honestly, you're law is terrible.

Re:Bill specifically about Glass is a bad idea... (2)

bws111 (1216812) | about 2 months ago | (#46338353)

Your eyes are SUPPOSED to be taken off the road briefly and frequently. It is amazing the number of people who don't understand this simple rule. You are not supposed to sit there like a zombie looking at the same thing all the time.

Re:Bill specifically about Glass is a bad idea... (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 2 months ago | (#46338497)

"The use of portable electronic devices while driving a motor vehicle is prohibited". That would ban cell phones, texting devices, google glass, and similar - but not prohibit anything built in to the car.

So what, exactly, is the significant difference between using a cell phone taped to the dash with a BT headphone and a cell phone built into the dash of the car? One's portable and illegal, one's not, under your perfect law.

How about my GPS? What is the significant difference between a GPS that is in a suction-cup window mount and one built into a fancy display on the dash? Other than having to pay the auto maker an exorbitant amount for the built-in one and having to buy it built into each car instead of having one I can move between cars, I mean.

What does "use" mean? Looking at, touching, feeling it vibrate in your pocket to tell you there's a new message, what? Am I "using" my portable electronic device if I pull it out of my pocket to see what time it is?

What if I'm reporting a drunk driver ahead of me? Do I have to stop following him and he gets lost in traffic so I can call it in? Suppose I'm using a ham radio to call it in instead of a cell phone?

What if I decide to build in a TV monitor and I watch DVDs while I've driving down the road? It's built-in, so it's legal. Right?

Simple laws are usually the worst. Many times they are written by ideologs who care little for the practical considerations of what they want to keep other people from doing.

Re:Bill specifically about Glass is a bad idea... (1)

swv3752 (187722) | about 2 months ago | (#46338617)

What about GPS? What about my phone's GPS? What is fundamentally different about reading a printed map and using Google maps? Why should one be allowed and the other prohibited?

Re:Bill specifically about Glass is a bad idea... (0)

jxander (2605655) | about 2 months ago | (#46338741)

*Breaker breaker one nine*

"Please step out of the vehicle."

Re:Bill specifically about Glass is a bad idea... (1)

icebike (68054) | about 2 months ago | (#46338265)

However general legislation against using digital devices can be done right. The issue we start to run into is things like do touch screens built into the dashboard count or windscreen HUDs like what BMW has in the works.

I have a touch screen built into my dashboard, and I consider it amazingly distracting and dangerous. Luckily I can voice command my car to do pretty much what ever I can do on the touch screen. I really don't like doing anything on the touch screen while driving. I'm not aware of any statistics on the danger of in-dash touch screens, but I just know manipulating it distracts me personally.

However I also hate that it locks out entering of addresses for the Nav function while you are moving and both front seats are in use. You would think they would put a button on the passenger door that would unlock data entry on the screen for a few minutes. As it is, we installed a LockPick to enable passenger data entry when we travel.

I doubt Google Glass will be as distracting, as long as it has a built in driving mode, which would allow you to use the navigation system, and perhaps the camera, but not much else, specifically not reading email and web browsing etc. At least HUDs and Glass keep your eyes on the road so you don't slam into the guy ahead.

We are trending perilously close to throwing out the baby with the bathwater with some of these knee jerk legislative attempts to ban technology before it really arrives.

Re:Bill specifically about Glass is a bad idea... (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 months ago | (#46338731)

Distracted/bad driving is already illegal. The point of these laws is to make it easier for lazy police to enforce the law. Like DUI, where you are breaking the law having an empty can of been on the floorboard of your back seat when you are sober, they make more regulations to make every possible distraction explicitly listed, as it's too hard to make the general laws stick in court.

The laws aren't about safety anymore. We'd be better off abolidhing all traffic laws and treating crashes as criminal acts (negligence, attempted murder, or whatever). Not that I'm recommending it, but that it's better than what we have now.

equal treatment (1, Insightful)

duckintheface (710137) | about 2 months ago | (#46337569)

There are plenty of questions about privacy and security raised by Google Glass but I think all products should be treated equally. I might be more distracted while driving by a Big Mac or a cigarette than by an image out of my field of view on Glass. This is too subjective a judgement to be made by politicians through the legislative process.

Re:equal treatment (2)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | about 2 months ago | (#46337737)

Apply this to other areas as well. A few weeks ago a friend called me up at midnight because his car had broken down in the boonies. I was awoken out of a sound slumber and was amazed at how dulled my reflexes and decision making capabilities were. For all intents and purposes I was in a drunken state of mind while at the same time being stone sober. Personally, I'd rather be on the road with somebody with a light buzz than with a parent in a car yelling at her kids and otherwise distracted.

Re:equal treatment (2)

duckintheface (710137) | about 2 months ago | (#46337831)

Exactly! A whining 5 year old in the back seat is more distracting than an image on Glass. You can't test every possible behavior before it is allowed in a car. The law should be that every driver is RESPONSIBLE for paying attention to the road. If I am being distracted by Glass, I have a duty to turn it off.

Re:equal treatment (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46338027)

Every driver is not going to do that. This is evident by how many people are texting while driving. Yeah every driver should be responsible. That would be great. Then every driver would drive the limit, not tail gate, signal lane changes, not text while driving, not drink while driving. What a beautiful nirvana that would be!

But that is not reality. So we legislate laws because we have already lost way to much as a society to do otherwise.

Re:equal treatment (1)

NewWorldDan (899800) | about 2 months ago | (#46338507)

However, while it's perfectly fine to remove your Google Glass while driving, leaving your screaming kid at a gas station or duct taping their mouth shut is somewhat frowned upon. The safety of Google Glass while driving is unknown at this point. And, as other commenters have pointed out, it's better to legislate distracted driving in the abstract than to try and define every instance that could cause impairment.

Re:equal treatment (1)

phobos512 (766371) | about 2 months ago | (#46338171)

At least in California, it's already illegal to drive while very tired or to be distracted by kids. Because they're thinking of the kids, or something. No, they just wanted another revenue stream but don't let that stop you from believing it's for "safety".

Re:equal treatment (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 2 months ago | (#46337813)

Most of the laws don't outline by product name. Their existence being prompted by Google Glass doesn't mean the text of the law includes the name "Google" anywhere. I mean, that'd be a bill of attainder, among other problems.

strawman (2)

SuperBanana (662181) | about 2 months ago | (#46338249)

There are plenty of questions about privacy and security raised by Google Glass but I think all products should be treated equally.

RTFAS:

"aimed at wearable technologies, such as Google Glass."

Nobody's trying to specifically legislate Google Glass. They're trying to modify existing distracted-driving laws to include wearable devices.

Also, whether a Big Mac is more distracting is irrelevant to whether wearable devices are. If they are, they should not be allowed. That said, many people DO want an overhaul of motor vehicle collision responsibility. "Changing the radio" was a successful defense for a driver who orphaned a 10 year old girl when he slammed into her parents, who were cycling well outside the travel lane...and there are dozens of examples of this kind of crap. He should've been charged with manslaughter at the least.

You do not have a RIGHT to drive; this is very consistently held up in the courts that driving is a privileged form of transportation. You especially do not have a RIGHT to do whatever you want WHILE driving.

It's been repeatedly shown that holding the phone doesn't matter (thus wearable devices are not safer) and speech-to-text isn't better (ditto) though holding a phone does impair your control of the vehicle; the real danger is that secondary tasks that involve a lot of thinking, such as composing a text message or carrying on a conversation, are distracting enough to make you have worse reaction times than someone who is drunk.

Google is just following in line with the cell phone industry in placing profits ahead of people's lives.

It's really simple: when you're in a car, your primary responsibility is to OPERATE THAT VEHICLE. Not to check your fucking email, or reply to text messages, or see what your stock price is, or what the weather is going to be like next week. Drive.

Based on what study (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46337573)

Does google glasses or a HUD in a car causes accidents?

Re:Based on what study (2)

MrEricSir (398214) | about 2 months ago | (#46337647)

That's the wrong question to be asking. Driving is dangerous enough already -- the right question to ask is what study proves that this type of technology is safe to use while driving.

Re:Based on what study (1)

duckintheface (710137) | about 2 months ago | (#46337757)

Why do you limit this to technology? What study has shown that it is safe to drive while eating a Big Mac? Are you going to test every possible behavior before it is allowed in a car? What about holding hands while driving? What about having kids in the back seat? Isn't that a distraction? I bet google glass is less distracting than a 5 year old in the back seat who is whining constantly.

Re:Based on what study (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about 2 months ago | (#46337877)

What study has shown that it is safe to drive while eating a Big Mac?

I'm pretty sure I've seen stories about people eating apples while driving being pulled over and prosecuted in my country (the UK), and our general laws against poor driving certainly cover that kind of case if the standard of driving is unacceptable as a result.

I'm in two minds about technology-specific laws. On the one hand, we introduced legislation here a few years ago against driving while using a hand-held mobile phone, which promptly led to aggressive marketing about how using a hands-free kit keeps you safe. (It doesn't; the exact same research used to justify the ban on hand-held devices showed that hands-free was almost as dangerous. It was left out of the law because of concerns over unrealistic enforcement, not because it was safe.)

On the other hand, the motivation for introducing the phone-specific law was that too many people are deluded enough to believe they can drive at their normal standard while on the phone, so they didn't think the regular laws against driving without due care and attention would apply. Every time that discussion comes up on Slashdot, plenty of people will turn up and exhibit the exact same arrogance and/or ignorance, thus proving the original motivation sound in that case. If the same is true of Google Glass or similar headsets, specific laws might be warranted in those cases as well.

Re:Based on what study (2)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | about 2 months ago | (#46337791)

Couldn't you say that about most distractions? Is it safe to converse with a passenger? Is it safe to have the radio on loud, or at all? You'll never be able to eliminate all risks from driving (it is the single most dangerous thing most of us do on a daily basis). Anecdotally, I believe that navigating with an HUD displayed on eyewear or on a windshield is far safer than a 4" LCD screen mounted somewhere on the dash, or a similar screen held in the lap.

Re:Based on what study (2, Insightful)

eheldreth (751767) | about 2 months ago | (#46337991)

That is exactly the opposite of the "right question"! In a free country the government must always defend any limitation of personal freedom. You should never have to justify it's free exercise. Anything else is not a freedom it's a privilege. If Glass, HUD's and similar emerging tech are dangerous or dangerous in certain use profiles it is the duty of the Government to prove so with scientific fact and not emotional hyperbole before enacting laws limiting your freedom. Beyond that it very well may be that GPS usage in a Glass type device is safer than a dash or window mounted GPS. It may also be that speed, gas, rpm and other vital info can be more safely delivered in that format. These sort of reactionary knee jerk laws only server to stifle innovation and the adoption of tech that could solve real, practical problems.

Based on stats, there is no problem (1)

camg188 (932324) | about 2 months ago | (#46338407)

Last I checked, auto accident fatalities and injuries have been steadily declining for the past 20 years despite having more vehicles on the road and more total miles driven every year.

One of the problems here is that the government loves to fix non-existent problems, but the biggest problem may be all the hyperbole used in the "news media" to drum up attention, clicks, ratings, etc. This very article is a good example. From the summary:

Given the toll on our highways shown to arise from distracted drivers

That statement is total bullshit. Show me the toll, the deadly toll laying waste to millions across our country. I'm surprised that "think of the kids" wasn't tossed in there too.

Early is the best time. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46337575)

NOW is the time to enact legislation which bans head-mounted display devices while driving. Once everyone is doing it, it will be too late.

This kind of bullshit on Google's part WILL kill people. So much for "don't be evil".

If we're going to ban "driving while X"... (2, Insightful)

Entropius (188861) | about 2 months ago | (#46337581)

... then we need to do it rigorously.

Figure out the threshhold above which elevated risk becomes criminal (i.e. "it is illegal to drive in such a manner that you have more than X% chance of hitting someone else per mile/per minute"). This is a policy matter -- maybe it's okay to have up to double the normal risk of collision, but no more?

Then test the hell out of everything. Levels of drunkenness, of stonedness, of distraction (from "putting on makeup" to "in car with pretty girl/guy"). Being old. Being young. Being male/female/black/white/purple. Driving past flashy billboards. Driving through speed traps (speed traps cause wrecks, ban the things). Driving while tired ("nope, sorry, after your 14 hour day you can't drive; you're impaired, take a nap first").

That's really the only way to be fair with this sort of thing.

Or we could just treat people as responsible, and not worry with forms of impairment that people assume voluntarily and can do away with if they need to. Talking on the phone while driving is fine, so long as you're willing to say "In traffic now, have to go for safety."

Re:If we're going to ban "driving while X"... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46337677)

Or we could just treat people as responsible, and not worry with forms of impairment that people assume voluntarily and can do away with if they need to. Talking on the phone while driving is fine, so long as you're willing to say "In traffic now, have to go for safety."

Yes, because that clearly has worked so far.

Re:If we're going to ban "driving while X"... (3, Insightful)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 2 months ago | (#46337879)

Yes, because that clearly has worked so far.

Since accident rates have been declining for decades, yeah, it looks like it has worked so far.

For all the blather about "distracted driving" due to these neat new tech-toys, we're having fewer accidents and fewer fatalities. So it's really hard to see how these new forms of "distracted driving" are causing a problem

Re:If we're going to ban "driving while X"... (0)

bws111 (1216812) | about 2 months ago | (#46338189)

No, it is not hard at all to see how these things are causing a problem. People are being killed and injured, property is being damaged by distracted drivers. A simple reading of the news would show you that. Just because OTHER causes of accidents are being removed does not in any way imply that THIS cause of accidents is 'not a problem'.

Re:If we're going to ban "driving while X"... (1)

camg188 (932324) | about 2 months ago | (#46338679)

But the statistics contradict your assertions.
What do you say about the stats collected and published by the NTSB that show that fatalities and injuries from auto accidents have been steadily DECLINING for the past 20 years. The statistics are on their website. Go look them up for yourself, I did.
The stats indicate that it is safer to drive now, after the widespread adoption of mobile phones, portable video, touchscreens and a myriad of other distractions. Why would it be any different with the google glass?

Re:If we're going to ban "driving while X"... (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | about 2 months ago | (#46338395)

We have had fewer fatalities due to safer cars etc. I'm quite dubious about your "fewer accidents" idea though.

Re:If we're going to ban "driving while X"... (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | about 2 months ago | (#46337993)

Yup. In which case, if you ban Glass, you must also completely ban all windshield-mounted GPS units.

I'm for caution first (0)

emagery (914122) | about 2 months ago | (#46337593)

Just as with new processed food products, or mining techniques, etc, this sort of thing has potentially huge and life-threatening consequences. Google (and similar) should have to do the legwork to PROVE the safety of a product rather than maimed or widow(er)ed individuals having to do the legwork to PROVE a product is NOT safe.

Re:I'm for caution first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46337751)

So you want everything to be proved "safe" in all situations in order for it to be allowed? I think they need to take the computer away from you since it can be used to bash someone to death. You shouldn't have any electricity because it can electrocute someone. Get some common sense.

Re:I'm for caution first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46338017)

Just as with new processed food products, or mining techniques, etc, this sort of thing has potentially huge and life-threatening consequences. Google (and similar) should have to do the legwork to PROVE the safety of a product rather than maimed or widow(er)ed individuals having to do the legwork to PROVE a product is NOT safe.

Why, yes, we definitely need to revive the "red flag" laws [wikipedia.org] for Google Glass:

...the Locomotive Acts (also known as Red Flag Laws) was a policy requiring [automobiles] to be led by a pedestrian waving a red flag or carrying a lantern[citation needed] to warn bystanders of the vehicle's approach.

Really, since when did /. become the site of preference for neo-Luddites?

Re:I'm for caution first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46338185)

Since it is obvious Google Glass will be a distraction while driving?

Re:I'm for caution first (2)

DarkOx (621550) | about 2 months ago | (#46338097)

That sounds 'fair' but it would essentially destroy innovation. Sure the Google's of the world could afford to do those things but the guy working in his garage never could. Its 'regulation' like this that essentially destroys the concept of a free market.

Ultimately the people who decide to 'use' a technology or device under specific conditions need to be responsible. Unless it can be show the device itself is fundamentally hazardous, like just turning it on makes it likely to catch fire or something. In this case drivers need to be responsible, and asses for themselves if a device is to distracting or not to use while driving. Drivers need to be held accountable and know they will be held accountable when the error and cause harm to others.

Ultimately others don't have a legitimate reason to care why you rear ended them / ran over their cat / t-boned them in an intersection what have you, only that you committed the error and were at fault. Frankly why I don't think should matter much. The fact you were day dreaming, drunk, stoned, on your phone, etc does not change the outcome. The law as far as liability is concerned should focus solely on if it was operator error or not.

As far as criminality is concerned it should focus on negligence or not; that is were you operating recklessly or not. If knew or reasonably could have known something or condition was distracting, intoxicating, or otherwise reducing your abilities to a degree that would impair your ability to safely drive and you did anyway it should be considered criminal. There again it should not matter, if its drink, advanced age, Google Glass, etc.

Seems appropriate. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46337611)

Google doesn't want any more negative spin on the Google Glass. Some in the general public already see it as a creepy invasive product and now they will associate it with premature death caused by distracted drivers. I think there is cause for concern, as the average driver on the road already gives zero forethought in the safety of others as they surf the web on their phone while going 50+ miles per hour.

No Glass, but... (1)

YalithKBK (2886373) | about 2 months ago | (#46337615)

It's ok, because the screen in my center console can pull up Facebook, so I'll just take my eyes off the road and read it there. Don't get me wrong, having a HUD in front of your eyeballs while driving is a terrible idea, but let's think about the big picture here.

It's not HUDs, it's what kinds of HUD (2)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about 2 months ago | (#46337929)

Don't get me wrong, having a HUD in front of your eyeballs while driving is a terrible idea

That kind of claim is why we have to be really careful about banning technologies prematurely.

If using HUDs or other kinds of electronic instruments were inherently dangerous, they wouldn't routinely be used by aircraft pilots.

The interesting questions are about what kinds of information are useful to help people drive better, and what conditions (such as a certain level of training) are necessary to enjoy those benefits.

Re:It's not HUDs, it's what kinds of HUD (5, Insightful)

east coast (590680) | about 2 months ago | (#46338023)

If using HUDs or other kinds of electronic instruments were inherently dangerous, they wouldn't routinely be used by aircraft pilots.

When you have thousands of hours of driving theory classes, simulator time and coached road driving in a vehicle where the coach can take over the vehicle in a moments notice then you can start to talk about how your driving a car compares to a pilot in a jet.

Most pilots have more time in simulators than most drivers get in their first few years of driving. Comparing the two is a joke and you know it.

Re:No Glass, but... (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 2 months ago | (#46338455)

It's ok, because the screen in my center console can pull up Facebook, so I'll just take my eyes off the road and read it there.

To me, this kind of thing is more dangerous. Not only because you can get on Facebook, but because there is no tactical feedback when you need to do anything. A touchscreen in a car means you absolutely have to take your eyes off the road to do just about anything.

Don't get me wrong, having a HUD in front of your eyeballs while driving is a terrible idea, but let's think about the big picture here.

I'm going to guess that you've never driven a car with a HUD. They are not positioned "in front of your eyeballs". They are normally centered above the steering wheel and at the bottom of the windshield, just above/on the hood. It's unlikely to overlap anything you are moving behind. Perhaps it would at a red light when you are stopped. But if it's covering a moving vehicle that you are following, you are insanely close and should be ticketed for tailgating, or reckless driving.

I have one car (we have 4 in our household) with a HUD currently and I don't think I'll buy another car that doesn't have one. It takes up about a five inch square at the bottom of my windshield, and I can still see theough it. But I never have to take my eyes off the road to check my speed, RPMs, fuel level, and fluid temperatures. In all honesty, I think they should be on every car. It can also be turned off if you don't want to see it.

Woosh (3, Insightful)

sosume (680416) | about 2 months ago | (#46337635)

Given the toll on our highways shown to arise from distracted drivers, is this responsible corporate behavior to protect their product, or an unethical endangering of lives?

I'm glad the this is a neutrally worded question. I've got a similar one. Given the massive breach of our childrens online privacy, do you think underages should be free to visit whatever smut they want on the internet, or is it better to have the ISP install filters for all our safety?

Ultimately, this helps google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46337637)

If we turn into a society that constantly needs electronic gratification, and most kids today look like Maggie Simpson with her pacifier, then it sets a stage for the driver-less cars that google is pioneering. So, how do they lose with DD laws?

Double edged (2)

vanyel (28049) | about 2 months ago | (#46337655)

Could Google glass be used in a HUD capacity to actually improve driving safety?

Re:Double edged (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | about 2 months ago | (#46338003)

Yes. Maps on Glass is already far less distracting than a windshield-mounted GPS for example, and there are also speedometer/OBD apps for Glass people are working on.

Re:Double edged (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | about 2 months ago | (#46338145)

I find it interesting that HUDs and other augmented reality devices are being implemented for soldiers on the battlefield, aircraft, cars, etc. but somehow when that augmented reality display combines wearable and car it becomes as dangerous as a dumb*** taking his eyes of the road to text on his mobile. I would assert that given the same kinds technology are being implemented with goals of improving outcomes on the battlefield, provide safer air travel, remove the need take your eyes of the road to look down at the dashboard in cars, etc. that the burden of proof rests with the regulators not the other way around. Show me evidence that eating a cheeseburger, adjusting the radio, smoking a cigarette, putting on makeup, turning around to yell at your brats in the back seat, or any other among countless unregulated activities are less dangerous than wearing an augmented reality display while driving. The conspiracy theorist in me wonders if this has more to do with Google Glass' ability to provide for easy monitoring of law enforcement.

Re:Double edged (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46338695)

I find it interesting that HUDs and other augmented reality devices are being implemented for soldiers on the battlefield, aircraft, cars, etc. but somehow when that augmented reality display combines wearable and car it becomes as dangerous as a dumb*** taking his eyes of the road to text on his mobile.

Could it have something to do with the fact that a soldier in battle isn't going to be reading Facebook and posting to Twitter, but many drivers will do that while hurtling down the road at high speeds?

HUD for situational awareness? Good.
HUD for distractions? Bad.

...just like mobile phone for GPS and directions? Good.
Mobile phone for texting while not paying attention to driving? Bad.

Given the number of "dumb*** taking his eyes of the road to text on his mobile" on the road, why do you think it'd be different with Glass?

AdBlock Highway (2, Interesting)

Extremus (1043274) | about 2 months ago | (#46337663)

Google Glass could block distracting billboards.

Re:AdBlock Highway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46338113)

Or at least blur any attractive faces in them.

more laws is what we need (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46337671)

DUI would seem to fit any actual incidents.

How about we punish people who do bad things and not everyone who might?

Another way to scapegoat personal responsibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46337687)

Radios, navigation, phones, accidents, passengers, scenery, events outside the car, etc are plenty of ways people can be distracted while driving. When are we going to ban all those things? More laws are not going to make people with no common sense get any. Deal with the drivers who choose not to pay attention while driving not the objects. At the rate ban laws are being used, you might as well ban driving and you won't get any distracted driving.

Possibility of improved driving (3, Insightful)

Monty845 (739787) | about 2 months ago | (#46337701)

Legislatures should wait to see how things develop, and not ban a product before it causes problems, based on the presumption that it will. Consider the possibility that you could build in driver aids to the Google glass that could actually make driving easier/safer. You could augment human senses with car sensors to identify potential hazards sooner then the average person would see them, or even something as simple as making your navigation info easier to see without looking away from the road at all. Second, to the extent that using them is banned, it should require more then just having one attached to your glasses, it should require that you were actually using it. Its simple with a cell phone, there is no reason you would have it in your hand other then to use it, but with Google glass, you could turn it off while driving and just keep using the same glasses. Ultimately it all comes down to legislators seeing an opportunity to get some free press for passing a law that wont piss off too many constituents, regardless of whether a law about it is really necessary. The basis for a law shouldn't just be can it reduce harm, but can it reduce harm substantially enough to justify an intrusion on our freedom to do it. I don't think banning Google glass while driving justifies that intrusion at this point.

Car radios (1)

J'raxis (248192) | about 2 months ago | (#46337705)

People get into accidents all the time because they were messing with their radio when they should have had their eyes on the road. So why don't we ban car radios?

And if that seems absurd, why are we talking about banning things like texting, cell phone use, or Google Glass while driving?

Regulation != Fix (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46337709)

There may be a toll from distracted driving.

However, regulations to outlaw distracted driving are not effective.

So, why add regulations?

Don't settle for being merely evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46337711)

Why settle for being merely evil when you can be downright dastardly in your money-grubbing?

Between Verizon, Exxon/Mobil, and Google, guess which one has a private jumbo jet for company execs...

Politicians playing at looking busy? (1)

wildtech (119936) | about 2 months ago | (#46337749)

Doesn't broad legislation like this hinder new technology advancements that could benefit drivers and improve safety? How about HUD displays wearable or projected on the windshield providing information at a glance instead of turning your head and looking for the idiot lights on the console. Some of these HUD systems can improve safety by improving early warning during poor visibility as well as traffic alerts such as warning about accidents ahead and warning you to reduce speed.

Where was the legislation when complex audio systems were introduced that require more attention from driving to operate? Handheld devices are just 'another' example along with Google Glass that are additional distractions 'when used in an unsafe manner'. Better get rid of the AC/heater controls as they are just a distraction from the driving task as well. There are already laws on the books to address negligence. Do we really need to add laws specific to each new device type that comes on the market?

Google's attitude is correct... for now (0)

mendax (114116) | about 2 months ago | (#46337765)

Banning something like Google Glass may be premature and therefore does not make a lot of sense. The logic behind this is similar to that which will be used by those who will challenge local and state laws that are banning the use of electronic cigarettes in places where smoking is ordinarily banned. There is a great deal of scientific evidence that proves second-hand smoke is dangerous to those who inhale it. However, there is no such evidence regarding the vapor exhaled by those using e-smokes.

Re:Google's attitude is correct... for now (-1, Offtopic)

Valdrax (32670) | about 2 months ago | (#46338169)

There is a great deal of scientific evidence that proves second-hand smoke is dangerous to those who inhale it. However, there is no such evidence regarding the vapor exhaled by those using e-smokes.

Vaping doesn't produce many of the VOCs and other smoke-based pollution of cigarettes, but you still have the problem of delivering an active drug (nicotine) to unwilling recipients that makes a public smoking ban still logical. No one should be forced to indulge in someone else's drug habit just because they happen to be walking though a public space, regardless of the drug.

Cop Lobby Laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46337835)

Traffic laws are confusing educating the public to prevent accidents with preemptive nanny-state laws for improving driver safety. This, in turn, creates animosity with the systems's purpose due to authority now having an incentive to generate income.

For instance: If you're in an accident, regardless of whose at fault, causing medical injury by not wearing a seat belt that would have been prevented with a seat belt, that's an insurance company issue; not a traffic hazard. So now we have agendanistas with attitude more interested in trying to goad the victim into a verbal response so they can try out their backup buddy scripts they learned in cop camp while giving a citation for lack of seat belts because of what might have happened to you in the future when something might have gone wrong.

The law exists in every state (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46337863)

It's called distracted driving. No need to make another law for distracted by text messaging, distracted by xyz...

Re:The law exists in every state (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46337941)

Yes lets have the distracted driving law enforced....by the people who drive down the road using their laptops.

Nip it (1)

khellendros1984 (792761) | about 2 months ago | (#46337939)

Google's main point to legislators is that regulation would be premature because Google Glass is not yet widely available

It seems like that's the perfect reason to nip the issue in the bud. If you wait to include Glass and such in distracted driving laws, you may increase cultural resistance to the law since people will have started to expect that driving with their wearable display device should be no problem.

There should be laws (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46337943)

There are already plenty of laws in effect that ban all sorts of technology that takes a driver's eyes off the road - no texting, no phone calls without hands free devices, no video on front-cabin in-dash displays, no portable GPS mounts on the windshield. Clearly people have figured out that these things distract drivers and cause accidents. It is correct and responsible behavior to ensure that those laws apply to wearable technology such as Google Glasses because they are clearly in the driver's direct field of view of the road.

Google is simply being irresponsible and greedy trying to block these laws. They don't care that people will be maimed or die as long as they get a few bucks before it happens.

And just to cut-off the typical slash-dot tech-head dribble - the fact that the laws are not covering *all* current distractions is *not* an argument to let Google glasses slip through the cracks as well. The fact that things are not perfect is not an argument that we shouldn't try to make things better or that we should completely give up trying. Nothing in the real world is perfect (sorry techies - hard fact of life) so giving up because not everything is perfect is simply not a viable strategy/argument for the real world.

Could be safer than typical GPS (1)

artisteeternite (638994) | about 2 months ago | (#46337953)

From one of the previous conversations, I understand that Google Glass does not really have useful GPS navigation yet. However, I would think GPS built into Google Glass and superimposed on the actual road would be significantly safer than shifting your eyes to glance at the GPS regularly.

Re:Could be safer than typical GPS (1)

koan (80826) | about 2 months ago | (#46338053)

Doesn't work that way you have to look into the screen, it sits above your FOV.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

It *IS* distracted driving.

Re:Could be safer than typical GPS (1)

artisteeternite (638994) | about 2 months ago | (#46338469)

Doesn't work that way you have to look into the screen, it sits above your FOV. https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

It *IS* distracted driving.

Okay. I watched the video. So you're right, it wouldn't be superimposed on the road. The question is, how much would your eyes actually have to move to see the content and how much can easily be seen with peripheral vision. It still seems like less of a distraction than external GPS.

It is how the lawyers hack the law (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46337981)

You just live by the victorious
Heard this before: Glass not on, hence not in use. try that with an RIAA hacker attorney, wear it to a movie theatre.

A little bit of hypocrisy here (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 2 months ago | (#46338067)

You can't use a phone while driving, but if the manufacturer embeds a similar device in the dashboard, it's perfectly okay. Many newer mobile "infotainment" systems are nightmarishly complex to use and are far worse than a cell phone in terms of driver distraction, but these are a-ok apparently.

Laugh (1)

koan (80826) | about 2 months ago | (#46338151)

It's amusing since Google is also developing a driverless car, and with all the Glassholes soon to wandering around it's a damn good thing.

So much for "do no evil" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46338299)

One death due to devices such as Glass being used by a driver while driving is one
too many.

Brin and Page should be personally accountable for this. As in : when someone wearing
Glass kills someone else in a vehicle accident, they also must die. I like the sound of that,
I do.

Killing people for money is evil? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46338301)

Most crashes involve 1 or more distracted drivers. Actual accidents are incredibly rare.
This will be used as a distraction by the average driver.

Of course a bill targeting just Google glass is stupid and just catering to hype. Time/tax payer dollars would be better spent on a bill elevating the penalties for all distracted driving to those of drunk driving. If Google lobbied to have the bill changed to this I would respect them more.

Remember while we have spent a lot of time and emotion villainizing drunk drivers, distracted drivers kill a lot more people each year. The only problem is that most people drive distracted and it is hard to pass a law that targets the majority.

It is hard to believe but while it has been shown that hands free cell phone use is no safer than normal cell phone use, and yapping on the phone is more dangerous than driving drunk, car companies still make and advertise cars with built in hands free. This is like advertizing/selling cars with built in bars for the driver.

Say what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46338427)

' is this responsible corporate behavior to protect their product, or an unethical endangering of lives?'

How is someone driving a car while simultaneously using Glass and causes a wreck Google's problem?

You see this type of behavior in many incidents today.. Isnt it time to start punishing the lotards?

And how about bored drivers? (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 2 months ago | (#46338447)

What will happen when a driver is bored enough? That may be even worse than chatting on the phone because a bored driver may fall asleep from boredom.

Google is going to lose this one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46338451)

It's presently illegal to wear headphones while driving, so I feel quite confident believing that wearing a head-mounted computer will also be distracting.

Or, let's go ahead and legalize wearing Google Glass while driving - and if anyone crashes or dies, send Google the bill.

Ban the most dangerous part (1)

Balp (7960) | about 2 months ago | (#46338543)

The driver, almost all accidents have to do with the driver. Getting the human out of the loop would be a better step.

And the obious question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46338633)

How many people were killed due to gun violence in each of those states? And why arent they doing something about that *NOW*!

Because they still aren't smart (1)

holophrastic (221104) | about 2 months ago | (#46338673)

I think people have lost the entire concept of a rich vocabulary. "restrict" does not equal "ban". I'm restricted from driving without corrective eye lenses -- glasses or contacts. I'm not banned from driving.

Whether or not a device (google glass, texting, voice calls, non-hands-free calls, et cetera) is "safe" is completely and totally irrelevant. Yet another arbitrary definition of safe, another arbitrary experiment to figure it out, and now an arbitrary time to make the decision. It's all typical law-makers not knowing how to make laws.

So here's my solution. It's very simple. It requires no new experiments, no new decisions, and works forever with all future devices for all time.

If you can pass the drivers' road-test to qualify for a drivers' licence, whilst using the device, then it's safe enough for driving.

That's how it works with corrective eye lenses, and always has. I can opt to take the eye test with or without them. And I can pass or fail as a result.

So, take the road test while on the phone. Take the road test while texting. Take the road test while using google glass. I don't care. Most intelligent human beings can be trained to do just about anything. I shouldn't be restricted from something just because others never took the time to learn. At the same time, most human beings aren't intelligent enough to learn anything. They are the ones who are welcome to try then fail.

So that's it. Take the road test with a ministry person on the other end of the phone through a basic conversation. You can drive well. You can crash into the dumster. You can hang up to avoid crashing into the dumpster.

Welcome to evolution, adapting, training, and learning.

What information do you need when you're driving? (1)

spaceyhackerlady (462530) | about 2 months ago | (#46338707)

Do you need to know how fast you're going? Yes.

Do you need to know how your car is performing? Yes.

Do you need to know where you are and where you're going? Yes.

We already have head-up displays that show car parameters, as well as navigation systems that help you get where you're going. This could be incorporated in to an HUD ("turn here ->").

Anything more would be information overload. I do not need ads to tell me how cool the store I'm driving by is (i.e. how much they paid for the ad), nor do I need neat pictures other people have taken in the vicinity.

Look at how they do it in airplanes: the pilots have the essential information in front of them, but can access other information as needed.

...laura

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