Yes, You Should Be Ticketed For Driving While Wearing Google Glass

A user of Google Glass just posted a traffic ticket for driving while wearing it. While the law is vague, the cop is in the right.

Google Glass traffic ticket Cecilia Abadie

Cecilia Abadie's traffic ticket for speeding and driving while wearing Google Glass (the latter citation being the second and third lines).  Click the image for a larger image. (Image Source: Cecilia Abadie)

Google Glass, the Internet giant's new device of which nobody is really certain what purpose it serves other than to annoy people, is creating strange new worlds and situations that have never been imagined before:  Recording someone just by looking at them, shooting footage of things discretely, ads of things on the fly while a person is walking.  Of course, such things have also led to some legal confusion.  To give the most recent example, last night a Google Glass "Explorer" (as Glass users currently call themselves) posted a traffic ticket she received for driving while wearing Google Glass.  For once, the cop may be right.

Cecilia Abadie, a tech entrepreneur and hacker based in southern California and a so-called "Glass Pioneer" and Explorer, was driving in San Diego, where she works, when she was pulled over by a cop.  The cop cited Abadie for driving over the speed limit past a patrol and "Driving with Monitor Visible To Driver," and on the ticket, the cop even wrote the statement "(Google Glass)" with the second citation, to clarify the situation to the traffic court.  Abadie posted her ticket on her Google + page last night.

The traffic law that the cop used to cite Cecilia Abadie is a California state law, VC Section 27602, which prohibits any visual display that is visible to the driver from being on while driving.  Exceptions are made for any device that actually aid the driver, such as a GPS or vehicle information display.  While the law was specifically made to prevent people from watching TV or running their laptops or tablets while driving, Google Glass adds a new wrinkle to the whole situation, since the display is not as obvious, and it does not necessarily broadcast video.  So it may not exactly fit the context of the law.

Still, the cop's in the right to a certain extent, even if it is the end of the month and he has a quota to fill.  While Abadie could exonerate herself by presenting evidence (via Google, which tracks all of her activity on Google Glass) that she was not using it at the time she was pulled over, or that she was using it to get directions, it does not seem likely that this was the case.  The problem with Google Glass is that, unlike a smartphone or a cell phone or even a tablet, such a device directly blocks or obscure the driver's vision.  While the the latter devices are indirectly "distracting" and thus open to debate, Google Glass can directly hamper a person's ability to actually see the road, putting it into a category of a "hazard."  As it stood, Abadie clearly did not see the patrol that caught her speeding or that she was speeding, which is her primary citation.

The mistake the cop probably made was what law he should have used to cite Abadie.  Again, though, Google Glass has created situations where the law is completely ambiguous, and this is a great example of one.  This situation will likely bring changes or confirmations of the law, but the roads would perhaps be safer for pedestrians, cyclists, and other drivers if the Glass Explorers could keep their Google Glasses on the windshield while driving.

(Media Sources: Cecilia Abadie, Ted Eytan)