Google Glass user Cecilia Abadie vows to fight Californian driving citation

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 November, 2013, 3:50am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 November, 2013, 4:12am

An early adopter of Google's internet-connected glasses plans to fight a citation for wearing the device while driving in California, saying the technology makes navigation easier than smartphones and GPS devices.

Cecilia Abadie was pulled over for speeding on Tuesday. A California Highway Patrol officer noticed she was wearing Google Glass and added a citation usually given to drivers who may be distracted by a video or television screen.

A challenge to what may be a first-of-its-kind citation could force authorities to consider how best to regulate evolving gadgetry that will one day be mainstream.

The glasses, which are not yet widely available to the public, feature a hidden computer and a thumbnail-size transparent display screen above the right eye. Users can scan maps for directions - as well as receive web search results, read e-mail and engage in video chats - without reaching for a smartphone.

Abadie, a software developer, said she was not using her Google Glass when she was pulled over.

Abadie said she was surprised that wearing the glasses could be illegal and that she was "pretty sure" she would fight the ticket.

"The law is not clear, the laws are very outdated," Abadie said, suggesting that navigating with Google Glass could be less distracting than with a GPS unit or smartphone.

Though Google Glass users can continue looking ahead, by glancing at the screen they still divert attention from the roadway and that can make the headgear dangerous, according to David Strayer, director of the University of Utah's Centre for the Prevention of Distracted Driving.

Legislators in at least three US states - Delaware, New Jersey and West Virginia - have introduced bills that would ban driving with Google Glass.

A Google spokesman did not reply to a request for comment. On its website, Google says this about using the headgear while driving: "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."

About 10,000 pairs of the glasses have been distributed so far in the United States to "pioneers," and this week Google announced another 30,000 would be available for US$1,500 each.