This week I will be diarising how I use Google Glass with a daily entry for a national news outlet. It immediately raised the question, is it legal to drive with Google Glass? Considering the hand free computing experience Glass offers, driving is a time when you simply cannot access a smartphone. I contacted the Victorian Police hotline to gauge the likelihood of being pulled over and booked. The Senior Sargent from the Traffic Unit explained that “The legislation would unlikely cover a head mounted computer, which instead focusses on GPS devices and mobile phones”. However if Google Glass was distracting whilst driving “It would be common sense not to use it, but not against the law”.
To explore further as to where the law stands in relation to Google Glass, I called Minter Ellison Partner Paul Kallenbach. Paul is recognised as one of Australia’s leading technology law specialists (Minter Ellison is also a b2cloud client – we helped create the widely used BoardTrac board portal app).
Paul pointed out that, in the Victorian Road Safety Rules 2009, both Rules 299 and 300 could apply. Rule 299 relates to television receivers and visual displays mounted in vehicles. Rule 300 relates to use of mobile phones in vehicles. However, Paul thought that neither of these rules appear to be a particular good ‘fit’ in respect of the use of head mounted displays.
Is Google Glass distracting whilst driving? The position of the display means it projects on the sun visor out of line of sight. Glass never turns on the display without a user interaction (touching the side or head tilt), and if a notification is received, Glass will beep, and only display the message/email/notification with a user interaction. How about the GPS? Initially the address is entered into Glass using voice recognition. The driving instructions are read through the bone conductive speaker, however the display is not constant. For example if you need to turn left in 300 meters, Glass will provide the audio instruction, then display the instruction on screen, then disappear after 4 seconds. No surprises and less distracting than s normal GPS which requires a head adjustment taking the eye off the road. Is it against the law to drive with Glass? Unlikely but we cant be certain until its tested in court. Is it distracting? Not at all.