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Californian driver ticketed for using Google Glass

Are cyclists using head-up displays legal?

A driver in California has been issued with a ticket for wearing Google Glass eyewear while driving, in what’s believed to be the first case of its kind.

Cecilia Abadie was initially pulled over for speeding on October 30, when the officer noticed the high-tech eyewear which runs Android apps and has a display next to the wearer’s eye.

The patrolman judged that the display impeded Abadie’s field of view and contravened California’s anti-distraction laws which forbid visible displays in cars, with exceptions for specified devices such as GPS units.

Fortunately for California’s cyclists the rules appear to only apply to motor vehicles. That means that cyclists usingGoogle Glass or the ReconJet head-up display are probably in the clear for the moment

Abadie has claimed that the headset was turned off at the time, but it’s not clear if that’s sufficient defence to get her off the charge.

The relevant section of the California vehicle code specifies that the you can’t drive if a monitor visible from the front seat is operating, but it also requires that such a screen should only be capable of being used as a GPS, car information display or manoeuvring assist while the vehicle is moving.

In the UK, the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations have similar provisions. In 2010 a Blackburn man was fined for watching TV while driving, and the regulations mention displays that are able to show information from a computer. As in California, there are exceptions for GPS devices and the like.

However, the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations don’t apply to bicycles, as far as we can tell, so Google Glass and ReconJet are probably legal on a bike here.

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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