Telecommunications Policy

West Virginia Legislator Wants to Ban Google Glass While Driving, Willing to Legislate By Horrific Anecdote If Necessary

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Photo credit: Thomas Hawk / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Google's Next Big Thing is a pair of geeky looking glasses with display and video capabilities that wearers the ability to display contextual information about what they're seeing, call up web-based information, and record and stream video from the headset. It's called Glass, and the elevator pitch is that it's an iPhone crossed with a pair of spectacles.

Glass is not yet available to the general public, but Google has released a few thousand test sets into the wild. Naturally, we're already seeing state efforts to restrict use of the technology.

A state legislator in West Virginia is attempting to amend and extend its existing rule prohibiting texting while driving to cover hands-free devices like Glass. The effect would be to outlaw one of the tech's most obvious potential uses: driving instructions in a heads-up display. Republican Gary Howell, who is behind the legislation, says he worries about wearers getting distracted by all the information that Glass could provide that isn't related to navigation—things like YouTube videos, text messages, or political news websites. 

I agree that it is probably not a good idea to try to watch Nicholas Cage supercuts while attempting to navigate heavy traffic. But the vast majority of drivers will also be well aware that this is not a particularly good idea, that not paying attention while driving is dangerous-to themselves and to others, and will respond accordingly. Drivers who do not care, meanwhile, will continue to have plenty of other opportunities to distract themselves while behind the wheel: reading newspapers, for example, or reaching into the backseat to grab a bottle of water or break up a fight between children. Restricting Google Glass while driving won't put a stop to distracted driving or opportunities for distracted driving, but it will prevent attentive drivers from using the technology's navigation features.

Howell is not sure that his bill will pass during the current legislative session. But he's willing to wait, because he believes that will enable him to legislate by horrific anecdote. Google Glass is set to become available to the general public later this year, and Howell expects that will create exactly the opportunity he believes he needs to amend the state's mobile-tech driving laws. By the time the 2014 legislative session rolls around, he predicts to Ars Technica, "we'll have some horror stories where people [were wearing] Glass and crashed." 

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  1. By the time the 2014 legislative session rolls around, he predicts to Ars Technica, “we’ll have some horror stories where people [were wearing] Glass and crashed.”

    Was he dry-washing his hands greedily when he said that?

    1. He was dialing up his one-armed friend.

  2. Legislators need to get on the ball and start banning things before those things are even in existence or available. It’s the obvious next evolution of legislation. It’s how you get re-elected!

    1. Precautionary Principle

    2. Seriously. Any old dictator can ban prototype technology. Let’s go ahead and ban the use of optical implants while driving.

    3. Only 13 states ban human cloning! Legislators need to get on that before New York has clone armies.

      1. Fear not: the clone pensions alone would bankrupt them.

    4. Ban FTL drives for teh childrun.

    5. Someone ought to go ahead and ban the singularity right now, before it’s too late.

  3. Washington State just banned childcare providers to have bouncy houses at parties or field trips.

    Let freedom ring.

    http://kuow.org/post/bouncy-ho…..e-programs

    1. I always thought it was “let freedom reign“.

  4. the vast majority of drivers will also be well aware that this is not a particularly good idea, that not paying attention while driving is dangerous-to themselves and to others, and will respond accordingly.
    —————–

    the vast majority might also be aware that texting while driving is stupid, but it doesn’t mean they don’t do it. Sorry, I have limited faith on my fellow drivers’ ability to not endanger me.

    1. But does that mean you’re willing to have the state enforce blanket bans to prevent the general public from endangering you? You know, like blanket smoking bans?

      1. And, you know, gun bans?

      2. As long as people are made to assume the risk for damage they might cause when using public right of ways, it shouldn’t matter how drunk or distracted or not they are. Driving distractions only became a problem because of the idea of making travel convenient only for certain methods.

  5. You know what distracts me while driving?
    Pants!
    But, due to the numerous citations, The Man requires I keep them on while driving.

    1. And hot chicks walking on the sidewalk.

      Ban them!

      1. Especially if they are wearing a bra as a top!

  6. Florida and Nevada issued licenses to Google’s driverless cars. I guess it isn’t Google’s technology that state governments don’t trust.

    They don’t trust us.

    1. If driverless cars catch on (and they’ve been driving around Nevada for almost two years now without a crash, I believe), it does make you wonder what people are supposed to do while “driving” around in a driverless car.

      I suppose the DMVs will make you put something signifier on the car to indicate that it’s a driverless car. Because nannying people out of using their phones while in a driverless car is too ridiculous for anywhere but New York.

      1. The driverless cars have special license plates.

        1. And that’s so the cops know it’s okay if you’re drinking behind the wheel?

          Eventually, that’s what it’s going to turn in to, right?

          Is there any reason why other drivers need to know?

          1. I’ve been wondering about that too. If we all have a car with a ‘3am go home’ button, then how are the cops going to make their DUI overtime?

            1. Considering cars kill so many more kids than guns, are liberals going to try to require driverless cars? After all, who needs to drive their car themselves?

            2. If I’m on the jury?

              Getting me to convict you of driving under the influence is gonna be a hard sell–if you weren’t driving.

      2. Hey, it’s Nevada. An aspiring entrepreneur could think of all sorts of activities to allow paying customers in his fleet of driver-less cars. Bingo tournaments, basketball watching parties, Scrabble championships, that sort of thing.

        1. Pizza delivery!

          Ice Cream trucks!

          Can we get rid of taxi drivers already?

  7. “we’ll have some horror stories where people [were wearing] Glass and crashed.”

    What ever happened to just saying, “That’s what you get for being stupid.”?

    I know, I know, It’s down the memory hole, with “It’s a free country.”

    1. It’s still a free country. It’s just that the definition of freedom has change from ‘that which is not prohibited’ to ‘that which is explicitly allowed.’

      Freedom is Slavery

    2. The people wearing glasses (who crash) will be the ones suing Google.

      “I can’t be held responsible for my own choices–that would be cruel and unusual punishment!”

    3. “…crashed into a little girl playing hopscotch in her spring church dress with daisies braided into her hair”

      Easier to swallow?

      1. Needs to be accompanied by a picture of a doll in the gutter… and taps playing in the background.

        1. Maybe some crying mothers standing with Howell while he rails against google glass?

          1. Mad Raging Mothers Against Google Glass Optical Obscuration

            MR MAGGOO

            1. Well played CE, well played.

            2. Yes, CE. You have won the thread, this website, and possibly the internet for the day.

            3. HA! That’s the funniest thing I’ve read in a while.

      2. We’ve got enough anecdotes already don’t we? Oh, those are of stupid people being elected to positions from which they can annoy the rest of us.

  8. Can’t ticket people for erratic driving. That means one person with the headset/phone/hamburger gets a ticket, while another does not. That’s not fair. How come that person can pay attention to two things at once and I can’t? That’s not fair. If I can’t do it, NO ONE CAN! BAN IT!

  9. Pants!

    That depends on who’s wearing them, and what size they are.

  10. I agree that it is probably not a good idea to try to watch Nicholas Cage supercuts while attempting to navigate heavy traffic.

    That link yo the Nic Cage video is epic. God bless the internet.

    Also, Gary Howell is a little pants-wetting worry wart. As a Republican, he should be thinking small government, individual liberties, and fiscal responsibility. Oh wait, he’s a Republican. That party really is dead.

    Also, fried chicken.

  11. Hey these things may bring all sorts of new possibilities.
    -you could watch porn while at the office meeting.
    -or while your wife is scolding you.
    -you could watch porn while at a stag party watching porn.

    I take it back, basically porn is all these things have to offer.

    1. “while your wife is scolding you.”

      My wife might find it odd that her scolding is giving me an erection. Then again, some people are into that kind of thing.

    2. Skip to about 4:25

      A bit dated and British.

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