Ask LH: Is It Legal To Drive While Wearing Google Glass?

Dear Lifehacker, Having recently seen our Prime Minister showing off/looking confused with Google Glass glasses, I was wondering whether it would be illegal to use them while driving? Logic dictates that yes it would be, but our laws are rarely logical. Is this something that is already covered, or something they’ll need to specifically add in? Thanks, Cameron

Dear Cameron,

For those out of the loop, Google Glass is essentially a wearable smartphone, or computer in the form of a sleek pair of glasses frames with a small transparent lens positioned over the right eye. The gizmo can be used to record point-of-view HD video and also displays contextual information in real time. (Take a look at Google’s concept video for a demonstration of how it works.)

As far as we know, there are currently no laws that prohibit the use of augmented-reality eye-wear in Australia. However, with the onscreen information at least partially obscuring your vision, it wouldn’t surprise us if new laws came into effect once the technology becomes readily available — especially if it takes off in a big way, like mobile phones.

In the case of Google Glass, the current prototype requires you to swipe your finger across the earpiece to navigate the menu, which doesn’t sound particularly safe while driving. VicRoads probably puts it best: “Driving is complex and challenging. A simple way to make driving safer is to reduce the number of non-driving and distracting activities you undertake while driving.” In other words, it really comes down to common sense.

Bear in mind that it is currently illegal to touch or manipulate your mobile phone when behind the wheel (the only exceptions are hands-free devices and phones that are secured in a commercially-manufactured cradle). Somehow, we doubt having the equivalent of a smartphone strapped to your face is going to get a green light from lawmakers. On the plus side, the contextual information feed may provide a quick getaway route from the cops.


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