So it seems that driving and hands-free texting on Google Glass do not mix.
This does not come as a surprise considering that the National Safety Council had already declared making hands-free calls as unsafe. However, this is one of the first studies to specifically talk about the dangers of using Google Glass on the road.
According to a new study from the University of Central Florida, using Google Glass to send messages while driving is as distracting as doing the same thing with a smartphone. However, the warning does come with some good news. The test subjects wearing Google Glass regained control of their vehicles faster than smartphone users after a traffic accident.
"Texting with either a smartphone or Glass will cause distraction and should be avoided while driving," UCF researcher Ben Sawyer said in a press release. "Glass did help drivers in our study recover more quickly than those texting on a smartphone. We hope that Glass points the way to technology that can help deliver information with minimal risk."
The research involved 40 test subjects who are still in their 20s. Each person was asked to drive a car simulator while using either Google Glass or a smartphone. They were then forced to react to a car from the opposite direction that had suddenly slammed the brakes.
The research team compared the reaction time of the test subjects when they were concentrating on driving and when they were driving while texting with Google Glass or a smartphone. They found that the reaction time of Glass users were as slow as people using smartphones. However, they returned to driving normally faster compared to users with smartphones.
"While Glass-using drivers demonstrated some areas of improved performance in recovering from the brake event, the device did not improve their response to the event itself... More importantly, for every measure we recorded, messaging with either device negatively impacted driving performance. Compared to those just driving, multitaskers reacted more slowly, preserved less headway during the brake event, and subsequently adopted greater following distances," Sawyer said.
According to the NSC, the use of cell phones causes around 1.6 million accidents each year. This figure may go up as Google Glass becomes more readily available. However, there is some pushback on allowing people to drive while wearing the head-mounted device. Some states are already considering a ban for using Google Glass on the road.