Ford Makes it Easier to Avoid Texting While Driving With New SYNC Features

7/8/10

With laws in Michigan and other states cracking down on texting while driving, Ford today unveiled some new features to its SYNC platform, an all-in-one navigation, communication, and entertainment center that takes the next step in Ford’s goal of transforming the automobile into one big, safety-conscious, smartphone on wheels..

New features in Ford’s SYNC product include a “Do Not Disturb” button that saves your texts for you until you’ve parked your car, and a text-to-voice function that reads your text messages to you. Many distracting applications are locked out when the car is in motion, including Web browsing, displaying texts onscreen, navigation entry by touchscreen, and photo editing.

The more we fiddle with our smart phones while driving, the more dangerous it becomes. So, the ability to interface, in a seamless way, with your car’s dashboard is crucial. Auto supplier Delphi is also working on a system that automatically shuts down any text- or video-centered app when you put your car into drive. But Ford appears to be among the first to have implemented these controls.

Alan Hall, Ford’s communications manager for technology and design, said Ford has been proactive from the start about limiting the amount of manual control while driving in favor of voice control. You cannot scroll through your MP3 collection, for example. You access it via voice control. SYNC prevents manual entry of destinations in navigation systems while driving, but allows voice entry.

“So, we’ve been very proactive with encouraging the use of voice control to keep drivers’ eyes on the road and hands on the wheel,” Hall says in an e-mail this morning.

If the automotive and mobile industries do not figure out a way to prevent accidents on their own, you can expect tougher laws on the books—especially if more accidents occur as a result of driver distraction.

To help with that integration, Ford is inviting mobile phone manufacturers to adopt a … Next Page »

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  • David L

    Again, this a fundamentally flawed set of features, both from a functional and a business perspective. Why would anyone want a product with built-in, involuntary paternalistic limitations? Unless you’re buying a car for your teenager, you’re probably going to find this condescending.

    Also, what about people who carpool? Even the passenger can’t take their eyes off the road?

    Once again, Ford is on the wrong track.

  • http://www.sampack.com Sam PAck

    I am glad at least one automaker is addressing the current problems with distracted driving.

    The SYNC system is really cool and high tech!