Driving while texting with Google Glass as distracting as phone: study

Thu Sep 25, 2014 9:20pm EDT
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By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO Fla. (Reuters) - The first scientific study of driving while texting with Google Glass found that the hands-free eyewear is no safer to use on the road than a smartphone.

“When you look at how fast people react to an unexpected traffic event – how fast they slam on their brakes, we didn’t find a statistically significant difference between Google Glass and smartphones,” said psychological researcher Ben Sawyer at the University of Central Florida.

Google Glass users are able to send text messages using voice transcription technology as well as head commands.

The Governors Highway Safety Association reports that 44 states ban texting while driving, which studies show doubles the risk of crashes or near-crashes.

This year eight states have considered laws to also ban drivers from using Google Glass and other head-mounted computers or displays, according to LegiScan, a legislative data service.

Sawyer said Google Glass proponents have claimed erroneously that the wearable device delivers information with less distraction because drivers’ eyes remain directed toward the road.

“Looking does not necessarily mean you are seeing,” said Sawyer, because thought processes remain affected.

“Glass is built to connect you more with the world around you, not distract you from it," Google spokeswoman Anna Richardson White said.   Continued...

A Google Glass-wearing attendee listens to a speaker in the 'Designing for Wearables' session at the Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco June 25, 2014.  REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage