The arresting officer issued the citation to Abadie for violating California’s Vehicle Code Section 27602, which states that “A person shall not drive a motor vehicle if a television receiver, a video monitor, or a television or video screen, or any other similar means of visually displaying a television broadcast or video signal that produces entertainment or business applications, is operating and is located in the motor vehicle at a point forward of the back of the driver’s seat, or is operating and the monitor, screen, or display is visible to the driver while driving the motor vehicle.”
Obviously, that law is aimed at preventing drivers from viewing videos in the front seat, something that all factory and aftermarket in-dash displays disable when the vehicle is in motion (although bypassing that restriction is well documented).
The law explicitly states that it does not apply to equipment “installed in a vehicle” — not mounted on a driver’s face — including: “(1) A vehicle information display. (2) A global positioning display. (3) A mapping display.” The vehicle code also adds the caveat that, “the equipment has an interlock device that, when the motor vehicle is driven, disables the equipment for all uses except as a visual display”
According to Abadie’s post on Google+, Glass wasn’t functioning when she was driving (you’ve got to issue a voice command or swipe the side to get it running), but that didn’t seem to be the issue — the arresting officer said “it was blocking my view.”
Laws prohibiting drivers from using Google Glass while driving have already surfaced both stateside and abroad. West Virginia House Bill 3057 was submitted earlier this year but has been stuck in the House Roads and Transportation committee. Arizona has proposed similar legislation, and the U.K.’s Department of Transport is also considering banning certain wearable devices to be used while driving.
That’s going to be an issue for Mercedes-Benz, which is already working on Glass integration into its vehicles. But the broader question is what’s worse: Staring at your mobile phone’s screen as it gives you navigation instructions or text messages, or simply looking through a head-mounted display?
Abadie’s ticket might be the opening salvo in the war to get wearables out of the car, but one of her Google Glass Explorer friends is already telling her to fight the case — and he’s a lawyer.