Ford Wants to Get Foreign Motorists in SYNC on Texting
by Leslie Meredith, TechNewsDaily Senior Writer
April 16 2012 06:30 PM ET
Texting while driving is not a problem confined to Americans. Drivers around the world engage in this dangerous habit, according to a recent survey from Ford Motor Co.
As Ford prepares to introduce its SYNC in-car connectivity system to the European market (a hands-free messaging and voice system that's been around since 2007 in the U.S.), it has released the results of its study of 5,500 European drivers.
Close to half of respondents read or sent a text while driving. And that's despite the finding that 95 percent of surveyed drivers thought that texting affected driver ability and safety.
Italian drivers placed at the top of the list — 61 percent had texted while driving. U.K. drivers texted the least — only 33 percent did so. Russians, French and Spanish fell in between the two extremes, at 55 percent, 49 percent and 40 percent, respectively.
Ford hopes to lower the risks of distracted driving by encouraging new car buyers to purchase SYNC. The Microsoft-powered system reads incoming messages aloud and lets drivers reply by voice command from a list of preset responses such as "See you in 10 minutes." The idea is to provide a hands-free and thus safer alternative to using a cellphone while driving .
More than 4 million Ford vehicles in the U.S. already feature SYNC and Ford expects that 3.5 million new vehicles in Europe will be equipped with SYNC by 2015. Ford dropped the price of SYNC in the U.S. by $100 last year. SYNC is available for $295 on 2012 Ford Explorers and Edge; it will be made available on 2013 Ford Taurus, Focus, Escape and Flex this year.