| ORLANDO, Fla., Sept 25
ORLANDO, Fla., Sept 25 The first scientific
study of driving while texting with Google Glass found that the
hands-free eyewear is no safer to use on the road than a
"When you look at how fast people react to an unexpected
traffic event - how fast they slam on their brakes, we didn't
find a statistically significant difference between Google Glass
and smartphones," said psychological researcher Ben Sawyer at
the University of Central Florida.
Google Glass users are able to send text messages using
voice transcription technology as well as head commands.
The Governors Highway Safety Association reports that 44
states ban texting while driving, which studies show doubles the
risk of crashes or near-crashes.
This year eight states have considered laws to also ban
drivers from using Google Glass and other head-mounted computers
or displays, according to LegiScan, a legislative data service.
Sawyer said Google Glass proponents have claimed erroneously
that the wearable device delivers information with less
distraction because drivers' eyes remain directed toward the
"Looking does not necessarily mean you are seeing," said
Sawyer, because thought processes remain affected.
Google, the California-based Internet services and
products company, did not immediately respond to a request for
About 40 people took part in the study, in which they texted
about an arithmetic problem via Google Glass or a smartphone
while driving in a simulator. In the process, the drivers were
confronted with a car braking suddenly in front of them.
After a near-collision in the simulator, Sawyer said the
texters demonstrated different levels of confidence in their
ability to safely text and drive. Smartphone users created more
space than Google Glass users between their car and the car
Sawyer said Google Glass offered one slight advantage: users
recovered from the near-accident quicker, getting back up to
speed on the road faster than smartphone users. Sawyer said that
difference suggests future technological advances might be able
to lessen distraction problems.
That, he said, is critical for certain drivers whose safety
can depend on information obtained on the road, including
military and emergency personnel.
"You can tell a teenager to stay off the phone when driving.
It's much harder to tell a person in a military context or
emergency services context. Driving isn't the most dangerous
thing they do," Sawyer said.
(Editing by David Adams and Jim Loney)