Ford is aligned with road safety efforts to eliminate the misuse of mobile phones while driving, by offering Bluetooth hands-free technology on most of its vehicles. The issue was raised recently in a speech by Dr Stephen Ladyman, Government Transport Minister.
Dr Ladyman's speech to the 72nd RoSPA Road Safety Congress, said: “A great deal is being done to create a culture change in the way employers engage with driving for work issues.” The Health & Safety at Work Act places a legal duty on employers to take all reasonable practical measures to ensure the safety of staff and those they come into contact with while working. This applies to employees driving in the course of their employment. Ladyman continued: “If you’re using a hand-held mobile phone while at the wheel you react 30 per cent more slowly.”
Recent Research has shown that 38 per cent of Managers would not feel responsible if a crash due to a work related call on a hand-held phone occurred. In 2005 DoT figures show that 13 people were killed and more than 400 injured in crashes involving drivers using hand-held mobile phones.
Motorists now face standard penalties for breaking the law by using a hand-held mobile phone while driving: three points and a £60 fine. Home Office figures for 2004 show that 74,000 fixed penalty notices were issued for illegal use of hand-held mobile phones. As well as having implications for individuals the changes will also affect businesses.
Ford’s hands-free mobile phone solutions are fully integrated with the car’s audio, navigation and entertainment systems. Phone, audio, climate control and navigation systems now all respond to voice command. Bluetooth technology completes the picture by providing wireless connectivity between mobile phones and the car.
Automatically-activated Bluetooth technology now covers most of the Ford range of vehicles, including the 2007 Car of the Year, the Ford S-MAX, and the 2007 International Van of the Year, the Ford Transit. Other Bluetooth-enabled Ford models with this safety-enhancing, hands-free feature are the Fiesta, Fusion, Focus, Focus C-MAX, Mondeo and Galaxy.
Kevin Griffin, Ford’s Fleet Operations Director, says: “Research has shown that Bluetooth is both an effective road-safety technology and one that helps to prevent our customers from breaking the law. Our voice activation also allows Ford drivers to give spoken instructions to perform a number of different functions in the car, and that means less distraction on today’s busy roads.”
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