• A new study shows 33 per cent of UK drivers admit to having read texts behind the wheel. The study was commissioned by Ford as it introduces its SYNC in-car connectivity system, which can read aloud incoming messages through a text-to-speech feature
  • SYNC, including the text-to-speech feature, debuts this year in the all-new Ford B-MAX, followed by other models including the Focus and Kuga

fordBrentwood, Essex, 3 April, 2012 – A new study shows one in three UK drivers admit they have read texts while driving, a highly distracting habit proven to contribute to traffic accidents.

The study was commissioned by Ford to underscore the safety issue as the company prepares to introduce its SYNC in-car connectivity system, which can read aloud incoming messages through a text-to-speech feature and enables drivers to send a text reply by voice from a predetermined list of responses.

Despite the prevalence of the practice, drivers agreed overwhelmingly that reading texts on the move was dangerous. Ninety-five per cent of drivers thought that texting affected driver ability and safety. At least half of those surveyed said they believed driver response was 50 per cent slower when checking messages from a mobile phone.

“Smartphones have quickly become an essential part of many people’s day,” said Christof Kellerwessel, chief engineer, Electronic and Electrical Systems Engineering, Ford of Europe. “However, text messages can be a distraction for drivers, so the benefit of a system that can read messages aloud from compatible smartphones is obvious.”

Ford SYNC will debut this summer on the all-new B-MAX and will roll out to other vehicles in Ford’s lineup, including Focus and Kuga. The text-to-speech feature on SYNC, powered by Microsoft, retrieves messages using a simple voice command from Bluetooth-connected compatible smartphones.

SYNC also enables drivers to send a text reply from a predetermined list of responses, such as “See you in 10 minutes” – helping motorists to remain focused on driving while staying in touch with contacts.

SYNC’s text-to-speech feature will be compatible with an increasing range of smartphones thanks to Ford’s adoption of the emerging Message Access Profile standard (MAP) for Bluetooth device-to-device connectivity, which is already used by leading mobile device manufacturers including Blackberry producer Research In Motion (RIM).

“RIM plans to implement MAP on BlackBerry smartphones moving forward and we are pleased to work with Ford in an effort to foster industry-wide adoption and standardisation,” said Andrew Bocking, vice president, Handheld Software Product Management, at Research In Motion.

More than 4 million Ford vehicles in the U.S. already feature SYNC and Ford anticipates 3.5 million new vehicles in Europe will be equipped with SYNC by 2015.

To support the introduction of Ford SYNC, the company has produced the following top ‘textiquette’ tips:

‘Textiquette’ according to Ford Motor Company

  1. Exercise common courtesy. Reading or listening to a text while in conversation is bad manners.
  2. Don’t compose or read texts while driving – listen to them instead!
  3. At the theatre or cinema, keep your phone in your pocket to avoid the distracting glow of your mobile phone as you text your friends.
  4. Always check the recipient’s number one last time before you press “send” – this avoids the embarrassment of personal texts being received unintentionally.
  5. Use caution with your tone. It’s easy for someone to misinterpret a message. Sarcasm does not always travel well.
  6. Check your spelling and dispute autocorrect. You want to order a “tuxedo” not “sexy toes”.
  7. If the message is urgent, it’s always better to make a phone call. Ford SYNC technology will allow you to call your mobile phone contacts with voice activation controls.
  8. Never break up or dismiss someone from their job by text. Ever.