Arguably one of the best things about Google Glass is the ability to view maps and get directions while you’re driving without ever having to take your eyes off the road ahead. But that’s not the case for those in the U.K., where using Google Glass behind the wheel is banned by the government.
Google Glass hasn’t even gone on sale yet, but already the Department for Transport has taken pre-emptive action to prevent drivers from using it on the road.
“We are aware of the impending rollout of Google Glass and are in discussion with the Police to ensure that individuals do not use this technology while driving,” a spokesman told Stuff magazine.
“It is important that drivers give their full attention to the road when they are behind the wheel and do not behave in a way that stops them from observing what is happening on the road.”
The DfT is clearly concerned that Google Glass has the potential to distract drivers while they’re behind the wheel, in the same way that mobile phones do. They were banned from being used on the road in 2003 in the U.K., and more than one million drivers have been convicted of using a phone while driving since then.
But Glass is completely different. It’s hands-free — you control it using your voice, and there’s no need to take your hands off the wheel. In fact, it’s probably much safer to ask Google Glass for directions then it is to fiddle with your sat-nav or change the radio station while you’re driving.
Sat-navs and radios are still legal in the U.K.; the DfT simply trusts us not to program them while driving, so why can’t it trust us to use Google Glass appropriately? Well, it’s probably because it has lots of other functionality, too.
Glass doesn’t just give you directions; you can also use it to watch videos, see the latest news headlines, check Twitter, and lots more. And there are plenty of drivers out there — those who still think it’s okay to take a call while they’re doing 60 — who will try to access some of those things from behind the wheel.
But maybe there’s something Google can do. Maybe Glass could one day detect that we are driving and automatically disable certain features until we stop. Until then, using Google Glass behind the wheel of a car in the U.K. will get you a £60 fine and three points on your license.