Google glasses and smart watches are only the latest wearable technologies that raise questions about the use of communication technologies in automobiles. If just these two examples catch on with the public, it will create new and interesting possibilities for the future and give auto insurance companies something serious to respond to.
Like Cell Phones
Like cell phones, these devices bring text, notifications and other information to a person behind the wheel through head mounts, clothing or wristwatches. One of the biggest areas of growth in this type of messaging is the development of medical devices that monitor people’s physiology.
The use of these devices is bound to raise questions about their use by drivers in cars, but many manufacturers are designing wearable devices to interface with your car’s computer systems. Physical fitness monitors in the future will help your car determine climate control settings and measure the driver’s stress and fatigue levels. Some may even monitor a driver’s alcohol level.
For the insurance industry, the concern is about the distractions that have come up with many electronic communication devices. By definition, distracted driving is the act of driving while engaged in other activities. Advertising, text messages, emails and other communications already bombard consumers on their cell phones, and the same messaging can come through Google glasses and wristwatches. The use of texting and cell phones while driving is banned in many states.
Recent court cases addressing Google glasses and distracted driving have demonstrated how new the technology is. While authorities could ticket someone for distracted driving with Google glasses, it’s difficult to make the case that the driver turned on the glasses during the operation of the vehicle. In addition, existing bans on texting devices do not apply to Google glasses because Google glasses have not yet joined the list of banned technologies. Wristwatch violations will be even harder to prosecute, but many state legislators are drafting bills to ban Google glasses from use by people behind the wheel.
The public doesn’t necessary agree with the ban. Their disregard for the ban brings up another issue. Google glasses are a heads-up technology, an issue that lawmakers should pay attention to. The driver can watch the road while viewing information. Heads up technology, proven a positive development in military air transportation, is a possible compromise for those who refuse to give up their communication devices in the car. Most accidents occur when people are looking down at their communication devices. If that’s true, then Google glasses offer positive developments.
Distracted driving is serious. Just Google “distracted driving crashes” and you will get an eyeful of wrecks and car pileups. In some states, police have pulled over people for eating a hamburger as a form of distracted driving, so how could anyone defend communication devices, especially when you see the damage done?
It’s important to use caution when you bring wearable communication devices into the car. Until the verdict returns on wearable devices like Google glasses, drivers should turn off anything that would demand they take their eyes off the road.