DEARBORN – Parents have enough to worry about when they hand over the keys to a teenager, so Ford is adding a feature to its MyKey® technology to block incoming phone calls and deter text messages while teens are behind the wheel.
The Do Not Disturb feature, which is available on all 2011 vehicles featuring SYNC® with MyFord Touch®, will now be available as a feature parents can control through MyKey beginning with the new Explorer in early 2012.
When hooked up to SYNC, this new feature blocks incoming phone calls or text messages from a Bluetooth®-paired mobile phone, diverting calls into voicemail and saving text messages on the device for viewing later. But unlike turning the phone off, drivers can still make voice-activated outgoing phone calls and the SYNC 911 Assist™ feature can make a call in case of emergency.
Distracted driving is of particular concern as it relates to young, inexperienced drivers, and the Do Not Disturb feature helps parents control another accident risk factor when their child gets behind the wheel.
“Adding Do Not Disturb to MyKey is yet another way Ford is helping parents to encourage their kids to drive safer,” said Andy Sarkisian, Ford Safety Planning and Strategy manager. “We are continually listening to our customers and responding to parents’ desire to make sure their kids are paying attention to the road, not their cell phone.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), teens are more likely to take risks such as speeding – a contributing factor in 30 percent of all fatal crashes. Teens also are less likely to wear safety belts than older drivers.
The research says…
The U.S. Department of Transportation has sponsored large-scale, long-duration, naturalistic driving research that helps to better understand driver distraction in the real world. Multiple studies repeatedly find that it is primarily looking away from the road that is highly associated with distraction-related crash and near-crash involvement.
Ford was the first automaker to support a proposed federal ban and state-level legislation banning hand-held texting while driving precisely because reading and typing text messages take eyes off the road and hands off the wheel. The SYNC voice system reduces distraction risk by allowing drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road when they judge driving demands are low and decide they can safely do other things.
Novice teen drivers are on a steep learning curve and do not yet have the adult levels of skill needed to control the vehicle, detect hazards and assess driving situations. The MyKey Do Not Disturb feature is an option that parents will have to set limits on their teen while driving in order to promote a focus on learning safe driving skills and habits.
The MyKey system allows parents to program any key through the vehicle message center. Along with the added Do Not Disturb feature, MyKey features include:
• A top speed of 65, 70, 75 or 80 mph
• “No belts, no tunes” feature that mutes audio system until front occupants buckle up
• The ability to block satellite radio channels carrying adult programming
• Volume control that can limit the audio system to 44 percent of maximum output
• Traction control system cannot be deactivated
• A speed chime alert at 45, 55 or 65 mph
• Early low-fuel warning beginning at 75 miles until empty
“Our dealers tell us that when they have a buyer with kids in the house and they mention the MyKey feature, every single one of them says, ‘How do I turn that on?’ Customers are very happy with the feature,” Sarkisian said.