UK launches early assault on using Google Glass while driving

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.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

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."

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