Ford Backs Ban on Text Messaging by Drivers
September 11, 2009
By NICK BUNKLEY
DETROIT — The Ford Motor Company on Thursday became the first automaker to endorse a federal ban on sending text messages while driving.
Ford issued a statement in support of legislation proposed by Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, that would cut by 25 percent the federal highway financing given to states that did not comply with a text-messaging ban. Ford also said it supported a similar proposal in the House by Carolyn McCarthy, Democrat of New York.
“The most complete and most recent research shows that activity that draws drivers’ eyes away from the road for an extended period while driving, such as text messaging, substantially increases the risk of accidents,” Susan M. Cischke, Ford’s group vice president for sustainability, environment and safety engineering, said in the statement.
“Ford believes hands-free, voice-activated technology substantially reduces that risk by allowing drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. Ford supports a ban on hand-held text messaging while driving.”
The ban would not affect use of Ford’s in-car communications and entertainment system, called Ford Sync, which allows most mobile phones to be used hands-free. The system can also read text messages aloud to the driver.
Ford Sync is standard equipment on many models and is available on other vehicles for about $400.
Mr. Schumer praised Ford for its support of a ban.
“Ford deserves credit for stepping up as the first car company to endorse a ban on this dangerous habit,” he said in a statement. “We are gathering a critical mass of support for this bill, which will give us the momentum we need to get it passed.”
Other major automakers have not yet taken a position on the bill.
Text-messaging bans have already been enacted in 14 states and the District of Columbia.
The Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents state highway safety officials, said last month that it favored a nationwide text-messaging ban. Earlier, it had been opposed to such a law, saying that enforcement would be too difficult.
The association said it based its new position on a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute concluding that text messaging by drivers makes them 23 times more likely to crash or narrowly avoid a crash.