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By John Byrne, Chicago Tribune

The future of distracted driving has arrived with the advent of Google Glass, but an Illinois lawmaker wants to outlaw wearing it behind the wheel before drivers start trying to get directions from images hanging directly in front of their eyes.

While the computer interface mounted on an eyeglass frame hasn’t become a common sight on the faces of Illinois residents the way it has on people on the West Coast, state Sen. Ira Silverstein, D-Chicago, isn’t waiting.

He introduced a bill in the General Assembly that would make it illegal to operate a motor vehicle while even wearing a “mobile computing headset” like Google Glass.

Now Google is sending representatives to the General Assembly Tuesday to show lawmakers how the technology works.

“I’m sure they oppose (the ban),” Silverstein said. “They sent me a letter saying they were willing to work with us on this.”

“To me, this is a no-brainer,” Silverstein added. “I think it’s just a safety concern. This is potentially more distracting than texting and driving. It’s in your peripheral vision.”

In response to Silverstein’s proposal, Google released a statement that does not directly address the question of using the technology behind the wheel, but that says the headset is not meant to distract users.

“Glass is built to connect you more with the world around you, not distract you from it,” the statement reads, in part. “We find that when people have first-hand experience using Glass over several days, many feel less, not more distracted by technology.”

Google Glass is not yet available to the general public, though the company is testing it out with consumers in California. Google Glass could hit shelves later this year, the company has said.

Silverstein’s bill is sitting in the Senate Transportation Committee.

In a letter to Silverstein supporting the idea of new legislation specifically aimed at curbing use of Google Glass, an official from Secretary of State Jesse White’s office pointed out that while state law currently prohibits drivers from having video screens or televisions in their line of sight while driving, it isn’t clear that the language would apply to Google Glass-like wearable devices.

Silverstein’s bill comes several months after a judge in California dismissed a ticket issued by state police to a woman who was driving while wearing Google Glass near San Diego. The judge said there was no evidence the device was activated, so it couldn’t be proven that the woman was breaking the law.

Photo: Justin Sullivan via AFP


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