Can Google Glass make you a safer driver?

If Google Glass can help keep you from looking at your phone while driving, is that good? Or should you just learn a little bit of self-control while piloting a two-ton vehicle?
Written by Denise Amrich, Contributor

I so very much wish we weren't having this discussion. If I could make one wish, it would be that people would stop playing with their little devices long enough to drive from one place to another. Just stop it! Stop your texting. Stop your talking. Just keep your eyes on the road.

I spend a lot of time in my car, and one of the most disturbing things is to be on the highway next to someone who is clearly not looking at the road. The other day, I was a passenger in my husband's car while we were stopped at a light. I was watching this woman in a little blue car right next to me. She was texting by typing on her iPhone while it was in her purse next to her on her passenger seat. But what really got me was that when the light turned green, she started driving forward while still staring into the phone in her purse. She hit the gas without looking out her front window!

Let me be blunt: texting while driving is not safe. I can prove it. The National Safety Council "estimates that at least 1.6 million crashes each year involve drivers using cell phones and texting".

The idea, as reported in VentureBeat is that Google Glass can help solve this problem. According to PR guy Chris Barrett (he's a PR guy, but not for Google), Google Glass is a safer way to drive than the old fashioned way, where you look at your smartphone while driving.

Barrett says he's driven 1,500 miles while wearing Google Glass and has been less inclined to pick up his phone while driving. He therefore believes that Google Glass can help save lives.

Okay, now... wait a minute here. Let's unwind this premise and at the same time take a rather unsettling look inside the mind of the Millennial Generation. Barrett's picture is on his Web site and it's clear we're not talking about someone who grew up listening to Jethro Tull, Foreigner, or even the B-52s. This is likely a guy who grew up with cell phones, who learned to text as he learned to spell, and thinks in 140-character chunks.

In other words, he's a digital native. I, on the other hand, am a little older. I grew up in a world where we thought it was safe to drive (or walk!) to the corner candy store (and we had corner candy stores) without having an electronic lifeline tether attached to our purses at all times. I actually went entire school days, in the actual school itself, without calling anyone or communicating electronically. When we wanted to pass notes, we passed actual paper notes.

When I learned to drive, it was impressed upon me that the stuff going on outside the car was the most important stuff while I had control of a two-ton lethal weapon.

But, apparently, today's Millennials (and a whole lot of other people) can't control themselves. They walk around, head down, staring into their phones. When they go out to a meal with friends, they look at their phones more than either their friends or their food. And when they drive, they're more concerned about a short text message on their phones than the large SUV in their rear view mirror.

In this context, Barrett's logic makes sense. He seems to believe that if our fellow road warriors won't put down their phones, why not put the phone into a heads-up display. That way, at least people looking at their messages will also be looking at the road.

He has a kind of twisted if-you-can't-beat-em-join-em logic here, but I know how this is going to turn out. Once you allow drivers to wear Google Glass, when they're not getting a text message, they'll be watching kitten videos.

They're still not going to be looking at the road.

Why, you might ask, am I writing about this in the ZDNet Health column. Why would I, an RN, be concerned about driving restrictions or freedom? I'll give you a very short answer: where do you think those 1.6 million crash visits wound up? Yeah. Those who lived wound up in the emergency room. My territory.

Do me a favor, please. Don't text and drive. Your blood works far better when it's on the inside of your body.

Go ahead and share your thoughts. Do you use Google Glass? Would you use it to drive? Can you control your urges to text at all times of the day and night? Should people under 30 simply be forced to take the bus because we know they can't control their texting-while-driving urge? Chime in below and tell us your thoughts. Be polite and constructive, please.

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