Until the U.S. government does further research on how distracting hands-free cell phones or in-vehicle systems like Ford Motor Co.'s Sync are, then Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood won’t be calling for restrictions on hands-free cell phones or in-vehicle systems.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has started a probe to determine if hands-free phones or systems like Sync pose a "cognitive distraction" to drivers. Some assert that even if the drivers’ hands remain on the wheel, the phone calls can distract them and lead to crashes.
LaHood told The Detroit News at an event in Yonkers, N.Y. that a study will be conducted so that it can gather “good data “ to back up the solutions.
LaHood said that research shows that distracted driving has led to the deaths of more than 5,500 people in 2009. In 30 states, drivers are not allowed to use a hand-held cell phone or text behind the wheel.
With systems such as Sync and General Motors Co's OnStar, drivers can make hands-free calls and they can listen to their text messages read aloud.
GM's system can also read aloud Facebook messages and status updates. Ford spokesman Alan Hall said the company aims to help drivers avoid distractions and maintain their focus on the road. He said that with Sync, drivers can have phone conversations, read maps and directions, and listen to their MP3 player while driving.