Don't text and drive, kids, not even if you're using high-tech, hands-free goggles to do so.
Researchers at the University of Central Florida have concluded in a study that using Google Glass to text while driving is clearly a distraction. They also discovered, however, that Glass wearers were more capable of regaining control of their vehicles than smartphone users following traffic incidents.
The peer-reviewed study was the first to examine the impact of Glass on driving, and was conducted with the hope of finding new ways for technology to deliver information to drivers with minimal risk. "As destructive influences threaten to become more common and numerous in drivers' lives, we find the limited benefits provided by Glass a hopeful sign of technological solutions to come," said researcher Ben Sawyer.
Sawyer has investigated how distractions impact human-machine interactions in many different contexts. Previous research conducted by Sawyer and his team at the University of Central Florida found that it didn't make any difference to driving performance if study participants were using their own phone or unfamiliar phones.
For the study, he used 40 participants and examined how they reacted while being forced to slam on their breaks to avoid an accident while using either Glass or a smartphone in a car simulator. Those texting using Glass didn't react any faster than those texting smartphones, although they did return to driving normally more quickly afterwards. "Compared to those just driving, multitaskers reacted more slowly, preserved less headway during the break event, and subsequently adopted greater following distances," said Sawyer.
He also discovered that Glass drivers tend to follow cars ahead much more closely, which suggests that even just wearing Glass could cause drivers to lose control. "While Glass-delivered messaging has benefits, it does not in any way make driving-while-messaging safe," he said.
Google itself has some advice for Glass-wearing drivers: "Read up and follow the law! Above all, even when you're following the law, don't hurt yourself or others by failing to pay attention to the road."
We asked the company if it had anything to add in light of the study, but we hadn't heard back at the time of publishing.