Head-up displays like Google Glass were made to assist drivers in multitasking. Rather than reaching for a phone to manually send or receive a text, a driver using Google Glass would be able to read projected messages and dictate replies without ever having to take their hands off the wheel. The concept seems logical to most, yet groups like the Consumers Union and the National Safety Council have cautioned that hands-free, voice-based interfaces can still pose as a dangerous distraction to drivers.
According to a Forbes article published yesterday, a peer-reviewed study conducted by the University of Central Florida in partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory compared 40-something drivers in a car simulator while wearing the Google Glasses, and their responses to when the vehicle driving in front of them suddenly slammed on the brakes. Researchers found that subjects who had been exchanging messages using Google Glass or a smartphone were just as equally slow to respond. Wearers of the Google Glass did appear to recover more quickly after the near crash, but they also left less distance between the car they were operating, and the car in front of them. This data suggested that the Google Glass reduced participants’ perception to risk.
In a similar study conducted at Wichita State University, researchers found while comparing speech-based texting to handheld texting, there was no significant difference in driver performance. “In fact, the researchers found that both methods of texting significantly impaired driver performance and caused variation in speed and lane position.”
But not all researchers are discounting Glass’s functionality or its benefits. Jibo He, an assistant professor of psychology and the lead researcher on the Wichita study, believes Glass may have some benefits over regular smartphones, according to Forbes. In February of this year, he stated that he had compared Glass users and smartphone users and found that Glass users were less likely to drift out of their lanes when looking at information. In contrast to the UCF study, he also found that Glass users drove slower and followed other vehicles less closely. (Forbes)
Currently, federal regulators at the Department of Transportation compare the dangers of distracted driving with the risk of driving without a seatbelt or driving while intoxicated. And, of all the possible distractions that the DOT is worried about, including eating and drinking, grooming, adjusting the radio and talking to passengers, texting is considered the worst. According to the NHTSA, five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded.
Texting while driving has been banned in 44 states, including the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 12 states prohibit the use of handheld cellphones while driving, and 8 states have considered legislation that would make it illegal to use Google Glass and other wearable computers while driving.
Distracted driving has proved to be a very serious issue on the roadways-not just in Massachusetts but also throughout the United States. If you or a loved one was recently involved in a distracted driving incident and were injured, it as most advised that you consult a legal professional. At Altman & Altman, our seasoned Massachusetts Car Accident Attorneys have 5 decades of experience handling all types of car accident cases, and have the resources and knowledge to help settle clients’ cases quickly and efficiently. Call or email our office today if you are interested in setting up an appointment. All initial consultations are completely confidential, free of charge, and of no obligation to you.
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