Several state bills address Google Glass and driving
Google Glass—the best-known wearable gadget—brings up a few safety questions for users, including whether people should wear it while driving.
"Optometry continues to be a force in safeguarding public health and the rights of patients."
The AOA's New Technology Committee advises ODs to tell patients never to use Google Glass while driving. But a representative for the company says proposals in several states to ban such devices while driving could stifle innovation.
Google Glass is a tiny computer that uses an optical head-mounted screen to display a smartphone-like interface above the upper-right field of vision. The device fits to special glasses frames and activates through voice commands or head gestures.
Legislators in a number of states have proposed bills to ban drivers from using wearable electronic devices.
State Senator Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago), who is sponsoring such a bill in Illinois, says the technology "takes away the focus of someone's driving and impairs their vision while driving, which I think is very dangerous." The bill currently resides in the state's Senate Transportation Committee, and he hopes action will take place on it in November.
The AOA has been assisting state optometric associations in tracking distracted driving bills and wants to ensure that "optometry continues to be a force in safeguarding public health and the rights of patients," says Brian Reuwer, the AOA's associate director of State Government Relations.
Future technology could reduce accidents
Wilson White, public policy manager for Google Glass, says the current legislative proposals could potentially cut off innovation in this space.
He offers an example: "A developer has built Glassware called DriveSafe that could detect when someone may fall asleep at the wheel. If we were to place an outright ban on wearing Glass while driving, we will cut off this type of accident-reducing innovation."
"Glass is built to connect you more with the world around you, not distract you from it," White says.
As explained in the Google Glass help center, the product's "Explorers"—those testing early versions—should always use the product legally and responsibly, White says. "It's early days for Glass, and we look forward to hearing feedback from Explorers and others in advance of a wider consumer launch this year."