Google Glass

The law has not caught up with advancements in technology and so we could see many drivers get into trouble not realising that they are committing and offence.

A news story which emerged this week has got me thinking about issues which could arise when you use new technology in your car. A Californian woman was stopped and fined whilst driving in the San Diego area and one of her offences was “driving with a monitor visible to driver”. The monitor in question was actually a Google Glass, a pair of smart spectacles with a tiny visible screen in front of the wearer’s eye.

Contesting the charge

Cecilia Abadie wants to contest her ticket as the device was not switched on at the time and because monitors which display mapping are permitted under state rules. The Google Glass device she was wearing does indeed have the capability to display maps. This seems to me to be a classic case of technology moving on faster than the law and as a new piece of technology is appearing almost every day it is inevitable that more issues like this are going to arise.

What Constitutes a Phone?

Wearable technology looks to be the future and will blur the lines between the designations we currently have for the equipment we use. We must soon be asking ourselves what constitutes a mobile phone. Smartwatches could well be the next big thing. Whilst the first models to come to market require another mobile device to connect with in order to make calls and send messages it can only be a matter of time before we see autonomous devices. Then what do the traffic police do? It is fairly easy to spot someone holding a phone to their ear but what about a smartwatch?

Confused Drivers

Drivers will have their arms relatively close to their face when they are holding the steering wheel and will be able to chat away to their wrists without anyone outside of their car being any the wiser. Even if these devices are ruled off limits when driving how would you catch the offenders? Would the police constantly be stopping people in error because they are wearing conventional watches and are singing along to their music? Will a perfectly normal Citizen or Hugo Boss be banned because it could confuse the traffic cops? I am sure the law will deem an autonomous smartwatch to be a mobile phone but as it is a hands free device will it be ok to use it whilst driving? The powers that be had better clarify these issues before the courts are full of disgruntled drivers disputing their tickets.

With the world moving towards wearable technology it is likely that satellite navigation systems will be incorporated into new devices so what are the authorities going to do about that? If you are using your eyewear to navigate is it a sat nav or a monitor? Is it helping you or is it a distraction?

Someone needs to take a look at the potential problems and position the law ahead of the new
developments not behind them. Otherwise there will be people committing offences without realising it and others knowing it full well but escaping punishment because nobody can see what they are doing.

Sally Stacey is a keen writier and business owner who divides her time between writing and running her shop.