U.S. Department of Transportation not eyeing Google Glass--yet

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A possible U.K. plan to restrict Google Glass out of concerns that the eyewear will distract drivers doesn’t appear to be on the same road within the United States.

On Wednesday, Stuff reported that the U.K. Department for Transport (DFT) plans to work with police to prevent U.K. owners of the Google augmented eyewear from using them while driving.

However, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) said that if there are concerns with Glass, they aren’t yet being formally examined.

“While NHTSA is not specifically working to research Google glasses at this time, the agency is working on a second set of distraction guidelines covering portable and aftermarket devices,” the agency said in a statement. “The guidelines are intended to be broad-based and will be applicable to various types of portable and aftermarket devices.”

Both the U.S. DOT and the U.K. DFT are working to reduce or eliminate distracted driving, a broad category that includes taking on mobile phones and texting while driving—and presumably could include Glass, the DFT suggested.

In 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 3,267 in 2010, according to U.S. government figures. An additional 387,000 people within the United States were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver.

Is Glass a distraction?

In a way, the latest DOT guidelines might favor Glass.

In April, in its first set of distracted-driver guidelines, DOT Secretary Ray LaHood said that the DOT recommends that drivers avoid using devices that require them to take their eyes off of the road for more than two seconds at a time, or twelve seconds in total. Text messaging while driving nearly doubles the likelihood of a crash or near crash and requires about 23 seconds of the driver’s visual attention, where the driver was watching his or her phone, not the road.

Glass typically uses speech recognition for navigation. But the DOT also recommended that drivers avoid using devices that could display text, as Glass can.

In any event, at least one member of the Department for Transport isn’t a Glass fan.

“We are aware of the impending rollout of Google Glass and are in discussion with the Police to ensure that individuals do not use this technology while driving,” the DFT told the magazine.  “It is important that drivers give their full attention to the road when they are behind the wheel and do not behave in a way that stops them from observing what is happening on the road.”

Google launched its Google Glass eyewear last year, which can display information to one eye, including navigation data. The eyewear only displays information when asked for, however, or when it’s time to make a turn while navigating to a destination, Google representatives have said. So far, Glass has only launched in a pilot “Explorer” mode, and only within the United States. A team of Italians also plans their own, sexier take on Glass.

“We are thinking very carefully about how we design Glass because new technology always raises new issues,” Google said in a statement. “Our Glass Explorer programme, currently only launched in the U.S., reaches people from all walks of life and will ensure that our users become active participants in shaping the future of this technology.”

As of Wednesday, reports circulated that Google was allowing Glass owners to invite new users to try Glass.

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