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Hi-tech glasses 'distract drivers'

04/11/13

By Alison Carey

A woman fined for wearing 'Google glasses' while driving insists the technology makes navigation easier.

Cecilia Abadie, who was pulled over in California, claims 'Google Glass' beats GPS devices and smartphones for helping drivers find their way.

She is challenging the fine in what could be the first case of its kind.

Google glasses have a transparent, thumbnail-sized display above the right eye, and feature a hidden computer that allows the wearer to seek directions, engage in video or email chat and search the web.

'Laws are very outdated'

Ms Abadie, who is a software developer, was stopped by the California Highway Patrol officer for speeding.

When the officer noticed she was wearing Google Glass, she was issued with a ticket usually given to motorists who are seen driving while distracted by TV or video equipment.

However, Ms Abadie claims she was not even using the contraption when she was stopped by the officer.

The woman claims her case could make authorities consider rules and regulations covering gadgets more thoroughly, arguing: "The law is not clear, the laws are very outdated."

A potential threat

Ms Abadie suggested navigating with Google Glass may be less distracting than using a phone or GPS.

However David Strayer, director of the University of Utah's Centre for the Prevention of Distracted Driving, said glancing at the Google Glass screen might take a driver's attention away from the road, posing a potential threat.

Mr Strayer did admit, though, that drivers can continue to see the road ahead while wearing the headgear.

At least three US states - New Jersey, West Virginia and Delaware - have already seen politicians put forward bills to ban drivers using Google Glass.

Follow the law

For its part, Google issues the following advice to drivers on its website: "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."

Only around 10,000 sets of Google glasses have been distributed so far in the US, given to people the search giant calls "pioneers".

Google has just announced that another 30,000 sets will be going on sale, at a cost of 1,500 dollars (£935) per pair.


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