Ford is backing a proposed law to ban cell phones while driving, throwing its weight behind the issue as new handheld safety bills make their way through the states.
In June, Representative Carolyn McCarthy (D, N.Y.) introduced the Safe Drivers Act of 2011, which, if passed, would direct the Department of Transportation to prohibit people from using handheld devices while driving, except in certain emergencies.
Ford, the first automaker backing the proposed law, said such regulations are important to keep drivers safe.
“Distracted driving is an important issue, and that’s why Ford became the first automaker to support proposed legislation banning handheld texting while driving in 2009 and why we are proud to support Rep. McCarthy’s legislation,” said Pete Lawson, Ford’s vice president of government affairs. “Ford believes hands-free, voice-activated technology significantly reduces that risk by allowing drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.”
Much like General Motors’ OnStar system, Ford’s Sync system allows people to perform a variety of hands-free mobile tasks while driving, including accessing turn-by turn directions, 911 assistance, music search, traffic alerts and more.
Customers pay a subscription fee of around $30 per month for Sync, which is also included with no extra subscription costs for several years on Ford’s newest models. This may make it attractive for new car buyers who want to use their cell phones while behind the wheel.
T-Mobile and Sprint already offer technology to keep drivers safe while allowing them to keep handsets behind the wheel. T-Mobile’s “DriveSmart” service disables phones in moving cars by sensing rapid movement between cell phone towers, as does Sprint’s “DriveFirst” feature.
In addition, drivers can always also use phones equipped with Bluetooth technology to talk while driving.
The bill may not be passed in the near future, but drivers will likely see additional restrictions on cell phone use while driving, as bans wind their way through the political process.