• Ford’s Technological advancements in infotainment and in-car connectivity keeps drivers in touch while behind the wheel
  • SYNC® technology puts Ford driver’s hands back on the wheel, eyes on the road

Texting, updating social profiles, surfing the net and making phone calls – things many of us do every day without thinking of the risks we face when we do them on the run. Distracted driving is drawing a lot of attention both locally and internationally as the related accident statistics rocket.

Studies in the US* have categorised distracted driving into three main areas – these being visual, manual and cognitive. Visual distraction would be any instance in which the driver’s eyes leave the road. This could include checking on a toddler in the baby-chair on the back seat, glancing at a text message, trying to read directions while driving or rubbernecking at the scene of an accident.

Manual distraction is when the driver’s hands move away from the task of controlling the car. This would be, for instance, when reaching for a drink or snack, leaning into the back seat to discipline children or to control pets or even to apply make-up includes both manual and visual distraction. It is an extremely dangerous exercise and can easily result in a rear-ending of the car in front of you.

The last category of distracted driving is cognitive distraction which happens when your mind wanders and is no longer focused on the task of driving. Almost every motorist can relate to the feeling of arriving at a particular destination but with no memory of how they got there. The actual journey is a blur, as the motorist’s mind has wandered and been occupied on something else. This might include something as simple as planning the week ahead, prioritising tasks or processing something that is a stressful concern. Whatever the cognitive distraction, it diminishes the driver’s reaction time should they need to respond to something hazardous on the road. Their reflexes are not as fast as they would be had they been concentrating properly.

One of the most common causes of accidents related to distracted driving is texting while driving. Not only do the driver’s hands leave the wheel to text, but their eyes leave the road to focus on the keyboard and the screen where the message is being typed. Because typing the message requires some cognitive skills, the driver is showing all three categories of distraction at the same time, which is what makes texting and driving so dangerous. There are also motorists who take the time they spend sitting in traffic to update their social media platforms, post selfies and catch-up on the social goings-on of their friends and contacts.

Here is some basic perspective to the time that drivers are distracted for in some of the described situations:

  • In the time it takes a driver to snap a selfie at 100 km/h they’ll travel the equivalent of one lap of an athletics track – blind.
  • While dialling a number on a hand-held phone they will travel 200 metres, or the equivalent of four Olympic swimming pools.
  • While checking social media channels they will travel 560 metres, or the equivalent of more than five football pitches.
  • While sending a text they will travel 280 metres, or the equivalent of twelve tennis courts.
  • While adjusting hair they will travel 120 metres, or the equivalent of four basketball courts.

“There are always going to be distractions while you’re out on the road” says Kuda Takura, Brand Manager, Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa. “But vehicle manufacturers are focusing on technological advancements in infotainment and connectivity to try to assist motorists to keep their attention on the road without being completely disconnected while they’re driving.”

Ford has introduced SYNC® into a wide range of models. SYNC is an infotainment system that allows the driver of the car to access their music, podcasts and electronic books and to select and manoeuvre through albums and songs without their hands leaving the steering wheel.

SYNC also enables the driver to make and receive phone calls, dial numbers and page through contacts using voice activation leaving the driver’s hands free to control the car and the driver’s eyes firmly on the road ahead.

The highest accident statistics* are linked to texting. Ford’s SYNC system allows the driver to hear text messages that come through while driving, and to respond to these text messages with pre-set text messages ensuring there are minimal distractions for the driver.

“If parents are safely strapping their children into child-seats, ensuring pets are safely stowed in carriers or with seatbelt harnesses, and teens and socialites can resist the temptation to visit their social platforms while driving; the opportunity for accidents to happen as a result of distracted driving are significantly reduced,” says Takura.



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