UK launches early assault on using Google Glass while driving

UK launches early assault on using Google Glass while driving

Summary: Regulators in the UK are working with police to ensure the arrival of Google’s Glass does not turn the nation’s drivers into a menace on the roads.


The UK's Department for Transport (DfT) has made early moves to block the use of Google's Glass connected specs while driving.

"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," the DfT said in a statement to ZDNet.

"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.

"A range of offences and penalties already exist to tackle those drivers who do not pay proper attention to the road including careless driving which will become a fixed penalty offence later this year." 

Drivers in the UK have been forbidden to use phones without handsfree kits since 2003. The current fine for being caught using a mobile phone is £60 and three penalty points points on the driver's licence, although this could rise to £90 soon along with a range of new distraction offences, including eating a sandwich or lighting a cigarette at the wheel, according to The Guardian.

A proposal in the US state of West Virginia to outlaw Glass and other head-mounted technology while operating a vehicle was aired earlier this year, however the bill is unlikely to pass until 2014.

The pre-emptive strikes on driver safety come as Google approaches the expected 2014 public release of Glass, which is currently only available in the US to participants of its Glass Explorer program.

Google has previously addressed the issue of driving while using Glass in an FAQ for Explorers, taking the view that using Glass in a vehicle depends on current laws.

"As you probably know, most states have passed laws limiting the use of mobile devices while driving any motor vehicle, and most states post those rules on their department of motor vehicles websites. Read up and follow the law! Above all, even when you're following the law, don't hurt yourself or others by failing to pay attention to the road. The same goes for bicycling: whether or not any laws limit your use of Glass, always be careful," the FAQ said.

Google said in a statment to ZDNet: "We are thinking very carefully about how we design Glass because new technology always raises new issues. Our Glass Explorer programme, currently only launched in the US, reaches people from all walks of life and will ensure that our users become active participants in shaping the future of this technology."

Topics: Google, EU, United Kingdom

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Quite right

    Wearing Google Glass would distract drivers whilst texting.
    I Am Alive and You are Dead
  • It's time smoking was banned too

    You cannot eat (everyone does) or use a mobile (some do) but can smoke legally whilst driving :-|
    • Don't you start

      We're already being banned from sparking up while driving, isn't that enough.

      What you forget is that it's about distraction. Smoking while driving is nowhere the same distraction as eating and a long way from using a mobile - trust me, I've extensively tested all options (on a private road obviously). Sparking up requires drivers to divert concentration from the road, often using 2 hands. This is not the case while actually smoking. So no, smoking at the wheel shouldn't be banned but fck it, lets erode some more freedoms while we're at it and let the whining minority win again.
      Little Old Man
  • You can't see people using phone for GPS Directions.

    Currently in dash GPS built in to the car requires you to take your eyes off the road to look at the GPS screen. If you are looking at your dash for the speed or how much fuel you have left again your eyes are not on the road. IFFFF you are looking at your phone for GPS directions... Again you are not looking at the road.

    Google glass can fix all of that. Now you have GPS map right in front of you, you never have to take your eyes off the road. People check their texts while driving. £200 each ticket won't change that. But now they won't be looking down, and can still see the car in front of them.

    People are scared. Because of the unknown. You might as well paint google on a cardboard cut out of a witch and burn it in the town square. jzzzz. Where are the open minded people. For some people Google Glass should be required to drive.
    • "But now they won't be looking down, and can still see the car in front..."'re an idiot.

      What they WILL be looking at is the tiny screen on the Google Glasses...and NOT "...the car in front of them."
  • they dont callit the nany state for nothing

    uk is a nany state they think there plp are to stupid to think on there own let alone live on the own they have to have a eye in all the things you do or dont tnk god i live in mexico
    • Nanny state doesn't help a great deal

      Unfortunately there are a huuuge number of idiots on the road in the UK. The laws imposed by our nanny state don't seem to help all that much, as can be witnessed by the the number of lorry drivers I see every day on the phone, or the women I see applying make up (yes unbelievable isn't it) or brushing their hair while driving.
      The nanny state has only evolved due to the growing number of people with little or no common sense.
      Just thinking about it - were there ever laws to say you shouldn't attempt to read an old fashioned MAP while driving? (Due care and attention I suppose, and common sense).

      Cars are full of distractions ranging from entertainment and navigation systems, to eating, smoking, rubber-necking at accidents and more. We will never get away from these.
      Clearly the greater the number of distractions, the greater the chance of an accident occurring, but apply a decent helping of common sense would enable drivers to assess when is not a good time to be experimenting with their latest toy.

      As for Glass, well it is right in your sightline, you cannot look away from it (well you could take the glasses off I guess). I don't like the idea of this.
      With ICE, GPS (assuming you have preset you route before driving off) etc, you make a conscious decision to look at them, and then look away from, returning your attention to the road. I see this as a little related to glancing at rear view mirrors to check what is going on around you.