A San Diego traffic court has thrown out a citation against a
woman ticketed for driving while wearing a Google Glass device. If
you haven't heard about these; they're essentially an
eyeglass-like frame with a thumbnail-size transparent display above
the right eye, which responds to voice commands. It can be used to
check email, learn background about something the wearer is looking
at and get driving directions, etc. Sounds pretty distracting
The San Diego traffic court commissioner ruled the driver was
not guilty because she had been cited under a code requiring proof
beyond a reasonable doubt the device was in operation. No such
proof was provided in this case. The commissioner did note that the
California code specifically bars the operation of a video or TV
screen while the vehicle is moving, which might have been broad
enough to apply to the Google Glass.
What's the law in Nova Scotia?
We all know you can't use a cell-phone while driving, so
where does a device like Google Glass fit in? The Motor Vehicle
Act1 states that drivers cannot have ornaments,
decorations, screens, or other things located in the car so that
they obstruct the vision or distract the attention of the
driver.2 It also states that you can't drive a car
with a screen, or other means of visually receiving a television
broadcast, visible to the driver while he is operating the
Coupled with the duty to drive "in a careful and prudent
manner"4, one could see how a device like Google
Glasses could "distract the attention of the driver".
Most provinces in Canada have similar distracted driving
legislation banning screens which are visible to the driver, with
exceptions for GPS devices (although programming it while driving
Unlike in California, the law in Nova Scotia does not require
proof the device was in operation. It is likely that if you're
wearing a Google Glass or similar device, or like the man in
Alberta who was caught earlier in the month watching TV on his
laptop while driving at night on an icy road, you could be ticketed
for distracted driving.
This is an interesting story to keep an eye on, especially in
light of a recent announcement by Google that they have invented
contact lenses which can monitor glucose levels. Three US states
– Delaware, New Jersey, and West Virginia – have
already introduced bills to ban driving with Google Glasses.
1. R.S.N.S. 1989, c. 293.
2. s. 184(5).
3. s. 184(7).
4. s. 100.
5. Caution: Using your cell-phone to navigate is still
banned. In July 2013, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court ruled that a
woman who had been using her cell-phone to navigate was still
guilty of using "a hand-held cellular telephone" while
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