West Virginia lawmaker urges Google Glass ban, citing cat video risk

West Virginia legislator Gary Howell made news across the nation recently when he mentioned cat videos as an example of why drivers should be barred from using Google Glass behind the wheel.

Google Glass, which is not yet available to the general public, is an eyeglasses-shaped mobile device that users control by speaking and blinking their eyes. Among other things, the device can be used to take pictures, access the internet, and - as Howell pointed out - even watch cat videos, all using images projected in front of viewer's eyes.

Google lobbyists ask lawmakers to reconsider

Howell, a Republican member of the West Virginia House of Delegates, is the sponsor of a bill that would make it unlawful to wear Google Glass while driving. A handful of other states are considering similar measures designed to help reduce the risk of distracted driving accidents involving Google Glass users, but some say the proposed bans are ill advised.

Google Inc. itself is one of the most vocal opponents of such legislation. The company has sent lobbyists to a number of states in an attempt to sway lawmakers who are considering the bans, Reuters reported recently. Google contends that banning the device would be premature, since it is not yet widely available. However, in West Virginia and a handful of other states, some policymakers appear poised to nip the potential problem in the bud.

Opinions vary on the necessity of banning Google Glass

Although the impact of Google Glass on driving ability is not yet well understood, concerns over its potential to contribute to the nation's growing distracted driving problem appear to be well justified, at least in theory.

Nationwide, distracted driving was a factor in over 3,000 traffic deaths and 400,000 injuries in 2012, according to the U.S. government's distracted driving website, distraction.gov. Cellphones and other mobile devices are among the most common causes of distracted driving accidents, and some say Google Glass could be even more distracting than traditional mobile devices because the screen is projected directly into the user's field of vision.

On the other hand, those who have spoken out against banning Google Glass argue that this feature actually makes the device safer for use while driving by minimizing the amount of time that drivers spend looking away from the road in order to operate it. In addition, they argue, Google Glass is almost entirely hands free. However, a study conducted at Texas A&M Transportation Institute suggests that hands-free devices may create a false sense of security among drivers while actually doing little to improve safety.

Distracted drivers can be liable for injuries

Regardless of the specific cause, distracted drivers are a hazard to themselves and others on the road. When a distracted driver causes a crash resulting in death or injury, he or she can be held financially liable to those who have been harmed. To discuss the possibility of pursuing compensation for your lost wages, medical expenses and other damages if you or a loved one has been in an accident with a distracted driver in West Virginia, get in touch with an experienced personal injury lawyer.