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MyFord Touch and Distracted Driving: Better, But Not Enough?


Ford is making “bold moves” this summer when it rolls out the MyFord Touch, a high-tech dashboard for multimedia, navigation, and Internet capabilities. Two features of the MyFord Touch system are the ability to make your car into a WiFi hotspot and HD radio with iTunes tagging support. The design replicates a traditional dashboard, but everything is interconnected. Information is displayed on a pair of 4.2” full-color LCD screens on either side of an analog speedometer with five-way navigation buttons on either side of the steering wheel making it easy to navigate different options. An 8” touch screen LCD at the top of the center console is the centerpiece of phone, navigation, climate, and audio/entertainment features.

Much of MyFord Touch is voice activated; in theory, this should prevent “looking down” while driving. On the other hand, touch screens require a certain amount of concentration on the part of the user. In a moving vehicle, any diversion can quickly become a safety hazard. Some may argue that the smart design eliminates the need for the driver to take their hands off the steering wheel; but, what about the eyes? Aren’t they equally, or more, important while driving? Ford says the system can respond almost entirely through verbal commands. Simply talk to your Ford and it will make calls, play songs, etc. You can hear stocks, emails, tweets, and texts. I am sure that these verbal commands are intended to improve driver safety. Let’s be honest, though; these are still distractions. The driver’s natural instinct is to push buttons; this ‘habit’ is already engrained in many drivers who use cell phones and text, on a regular basis, while driving.

Is it time to embrace these technological advances or express concern for driver, passenger and opposing vehicle safety? Watch this video and notice the number of buttons and screens. Ford opens the video with this disclaimer:

Driving while distracted can result in loss of vehicle control. Only use mobile phones and other device even with voice controls when it is safe to do so.

Doesn’t this statement imply that Ford believes the MyFord Touch could cause a driver to be distracted? Do we need more distractions while driving? Instead of adding controls to our vehicles, is it time to control unnecessary distractions? Is it time to concentrate on driving rather than these business and entertainment tools that distract us from concentrating on what the automobile was invented for? To get us, as safely as possible, from our starting point to our destination?

Lawsuit Financial strongly encourages everyone to reconsider mobile phone use, texting, and engaging in other activities that would require you to take your eyes off the road and/or hands off the wheel, while driving. Your concentration is directed elsewhere and that could be dangerous. Mobile phones, iPods, Blackberrys, texting and internet viewing are dangerous activities when combined with operating a two-ton piece of equipment at high speed toward opposing traffic. If you must use these important connection or business tools in your car, pull off the road to do so. This will only take a few minutes of your valuable time, but might assure that you have valuable time in your future lifespan.

Lawsuit Financial is a strong supporter of restrictions on those vehicle options that create driver distractions. As one of he country’s most experienced auto accident lawsuit funding companies, we have seen, first hand, the devastating injuries that use of these devices while driving can cause. We finance personal injury litigation all over the country and we have seen a huge increase in accidents caused by these types of distractions. While strategic lawsuit funding may help you achieve a better result in your personal injury litigation, we prefer that you avoid getting injured or injuring someone else in the first instance. Eliminating or, at least, limiting the use of these types of devices will go a long way to preventing accidental injuires on our nation’s roads. Please comment below; let us know what you think.


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    You put so much in there that I can right a thesis in support of your concern and to debunk the entire BS excuses from the Automotive OEM. Let me start by the claim that drivers can control anything using speech recognition. Under the title, How Telematics Can Help Prevent Driver Distraction, Analysts say that Speech recognition is 70% accurate at best and as low as 11% for Ford Sync. (http://social.telematicsupdate.com/industry-insight/how-telematics-can-help-prevent-driver-distraction). From my experience, in the Automotive and Safety arena, if a vehicle feature is not reliable, a driver will have to overcome their anxiety to use the system and wait for the failure. This by itself is stressful enough to cause accidents. If you go to http://actplace.net/Articles/CompetitionsFailure.htm you will see titles of articles related to speech recognition effect on safe driving and you will see video reviews of main stream vehicles being tested by third party that shows that speech recognition can not work in real driving conditions and will cause drivers to look away from the road while driving.

    As for the “Voluntary Testing”, it is “Really Voluntary” and from my experience, this means that if anyone tried to tighten the specs, he will be in trouble so I will not put any value into their claims particularly that I know that what they are interested in the flashy features to bring the buyers in. They actually go and higher university researchers and non profit organizations to excuse their voluntary standard that are always based on simulator data where scenarios are made to be favorable to the test being run (YES, IT IS CHEATING). Whether the driver is going to learn from his first mistake and stop using these features or whether he will continue using them until he crashes, is really viewed as not their problem.

    On the other extreme is the National Safety Counsel with their Simulator based studies that already been discredited because it was proven that it has no relation to real world driving. They are intentionally avoiding data that can decrease and possibly eliminate these deaths. Their focus on banning use of technology in the vehicle, (throwing out the baby with the water), is the dangerous distraction here and it is distracting the rest of the country from finding a technical solution that can modulate the use of the phone with safe driving.

    The causes of Accidents as highlighted by Virginia Tech research is Eyes Off the Roads and Hands off the wheel. So when a person is handling the phone or the MP3 player or even the built in radio manually, he is at a higher risk of accident because, “eyes are off the road and hands are off the wheel”.

    The cause of distractions that is claimed by NSC is Cognitive Distraction. This happens because of having a phone to the ear which causes “zone out effect that the NSC refers to as the Cognitive Distraction. All the research referenced by the NSC uses ear pieces which has the same effect as holding the phone to ones ear minus the hand held confusion. During the National Driver Distraction Summit, the NSC and all attendees were made aware of Dr. Amit Almor Univ. South Carolina research which shows that the direction of the sound affects the Cognitive Distraction, but they continue to choose to ignore it. Even people that make money out of selling ear pieces (One of the largest makers of Earpieces in France, Parrot,) already stopped producing them because they recognized their dangers.

    Hands Free with the right technology is great and will reduce and even eliminate the accidents the NSC is worried about.
    1st- The phone should not be handled manually and should be docked to a special cradle.
    2nd- The cradle will monitor the vehicle to determine if the driver is in a critical situation, e.g. passing or breaking or turning hard before it allows a call to come through. This part alone eliminates 44% of accidents.
    3rd- the sound should come at the driver from the windshield so they do not have to picture the caller in their head.
    4th – to answer hang up and dial are handled remotely from the steering wheel using a smart toggle sensor with an audible menu so the driver does not have to look at anything.

    This technology exists and is available on http://actplace.net. If we can make it safe, why ban it? What is really behind the NSC zealous attack on the cell phone that is making them loose sight of their true goal?
    Mouhamad A. Naboulsi, President, Applied Computer Technologies, Inc.

  2. Truckie D says:
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    Interesting post Mark.

    It’ll be fascinating to see the crash rate vs. baseline for vehicles equipped with all this.

    My prediction: about 20% more than similar vehicles without all the electronics.

    Of course, Ford’s disclaimer means they can’t be sued over it, right? :)