WASHINGTON — Ford has come out in support of
congressional legislation that would institute a nationwide ban on
motorists using hand-held cellphones and other mobile devices while
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., introduced the Safe
Drivers Act of 2011 on June 23. The proposed legislation would direct
the Department of Transportation to set a national standard prohibiting
such use of mobile devices, except in certain emergencies.
Ford is the first automaker to publicly support the bill.
“Ford endorses Rep. McCarthy’s legislation because it
represents a practical, commonsense approach to a national problem,”
said Pete Lawson, Ford’s vice president of government affairs, in a
statement Monday. “Distracted driving is an important issue, and that’s
why Ford became the first automaker to support proposed legislation
banning hand-held texting while driving in 2009 and why we are proud to
support Rep. McCarthy’s legislation that will ban using hand-held
devices while driving.”
Devices that allow hands-free use of a cellphone would be permitted under McCarthy’s legislation.
But the Department of Transportation would also be
directed to study whether use of mobile phones or other devices could be
dangerous even when operated hands-free. A finding that such “cognitive
distraction” poses a safety risk could put a damper on in-vehicle
infotainment technologies and hands-free phone integration that have
become popular with automakers, including Ford.
Ford’s Lawson said that the company believed
hands-free technology was an appropriate solution, citing research
showing that “drawing drivers’ eyes away from the road — whether
text-messaging, manually dialing a cellphone, or reading maps —
substantially increases the risk of an accident or near misses.”
“Ford believes hands-free, voice-activated technology
significantly reduces that risk by allowing drivers to keep their hands
on the wheel and eyes on the road,” Lawson said.
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