Getting distracted while driving is a bad idea but according to a new study in the UK, one of three drivers admits to have read texts while on the road. Ford saw the need to offer technology that would reduce the risk of traffic accidents due to this habit. Ford is preparing to launch the SYNC in-car connectivity system, which has a text-to-speech feature that could read aloud the messages.
With the use of this system, drivers could also send a text reply by voice but this would have to be chosen from a predetermined list of responses. Ford had asked for this study to point out how serious this safety issue is. The study also found out that this habit is very common but drivers do realize that it is dangerous. About 95% of those surveyed said that the driver’s ability and safety are affected by texting.
About half of those in the survey believe that driver response is 50% slower when they’re checking their messages from a mobile phone. Christof Kellerwessel, chief engineer, Electronic and Electrical Systems Engineering, Ford of Europe, said that many people consider smartphones to be an essential part of their day. Ford SYNC will be presented on the all-new B-MAX this summer and it will soon be used on the other vehicles in Ford's lineup, like Focus and Kuga. Microsoft powers this text-to-speech feature on SYNC. Messages can be retrieved using a simple voice command from Bluetooth-connected compatible smartphones.
In addition, SYNC could enable drivers to send a text reply from a list of responses that had been predetermined earlier. For example, the driver could reply: “I’ll be there in 15 minutes.” This enables motorists to be focused on driving but still be able to communicate with others. This text-to-speech feature will be compatible with a expanding smartphone lineup due to Ford's adoption of the growing Message Access Profile standard (MAP) for Bluetooth device-to-device connectivity, which is already used by leading mobile device manufacturers such as Blackberry producer Research In Motion (RIM).