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Ford Backs Texting While Driving Ban

Posted by: David Kiley on September 10, 2009

Ford Motor Co. on Thursday became the first automaker to formally support a bill that would ban cellphone texting while driving.

It seems like a no-brainer endorsement, though car companies are often hesitant to back laws that impose restrictions on drivers. Good for Ford for jumping on the obvious opportunity to be the first automaker to support the ban.

Ford issued a statement in support of legislation proposed by Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, that would cut by 25 percent the federal highway funding given to states that did not comply with a texting ban. Ford also said it supports a similar proposal in the House of Representatives by Carolyn McCarthy, Dem. of New York.

“The most complete and most recent research shows that activity that draws drivers’ eyes away from the road for an extended period while driving, such as text messaging, substantially increases the risk of accidents,” Susan Cischke, Ford’s group vice president for sustainability, environment and safety engineering, said.

Ford officials, though, were concerned on THursday that it’s support of the bill might be seen as actually supporting the act of texting while driving when the Associated Press issued a story with the headline: “Ford Backs Texting While Driving Bill.”

The ban would not affect use of Ford’s in-car communications and entertainment system, called Ford Sync, which allows most mobile phones to be used hands-free. The system can also read text messages aloud to the driver—a safety and convenience feature that Ford has touted and which has been a pop;ualr option on its vehicles for the past two years.

Ford Sync is standard equipment on many models and is available on other vehicles for about $400.

Senator Schumer praised Ford for its support of a ban. “Ford deserves credit for stepping up as the first car company to endorse a ban on this dangerous habit,” he said in a statement. “We are gathering a critical mass of support for this bill, which will give us the momentum we need to get it passed.”

The Governors Highway Safety Association has said it favors a nationwide text-messaging ban. It had earlier said that it opposed such a law because enforcement would be too difficult.

Text-messaging bans have already been enacted in 14 states and the District of Columbia.

A study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute concluding that text messaging by drivers makes them 23 times more likely to crash or nearly crash.

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Reader Comments


September 11, 2009 01:32 PM

Hate people who are driving talk or text on cellphone....


September 11, 2009 04:32 PM

We don't need laws that ban "doing X" while driving. We already have laws that cover this - they're called speeding, reckless driving, causing accidents, etc.

If somebody is texting and driving recklessly, they're already breaking the law. why do we need another one specifically for texting?

Do we also need laws for putting on makeup, eating, reaching for something in the back seat, and everything else that distracts drivers?

Does that mean it's ok to swerve in and out of lanes while clipping my toenails as I drive, but not to text if I'm not causing any harm?

These laws are a waste of everybody's time.


September 12, 2009 04:46 PM

Ford's shameless self-serving promotion of its "Sync" accessory is the hidden agenda behind the vocal support of this legislation rather than a heart-felt concern for public safety. From a historical perspective, Ford has never demonstrated its social conscience very well. Despite heighten public fear of environmental pollution during the '70s and '80s, Ford's River Rouge plants continued to pollute land, air and water at an alarming proportion. In the '60s, it was considered a normal incident the Detroit River caught fire periodically from the industrial flammable effluence. Issuing what later qualified as "dis-information" to the media, former CEO Ford Jr. declared in the 90’s that Ford Corporation is air pollution and ecology minded when in fact he ordered the mass production of the Excursion and Expedition, two of the dirtiest air polluter SUVs. Even if Ford's environmental sins are set aside, Ford's lack of consumer conscience is equally appalling. In issuing a multi-million dollar tort judgement against Ford, the trial court found Ford knowingly produced the Pinto during the '70s with dangerous gas tanks that would explode upon a rear collision. For several decades, Ford's continued use of inferior auto components debased its brands as its vehicles suffered reliability problems. Consequently, the frustrated auto consumers created an acronym, F-O-R-D, Found On the Road Dead. If Ford is to survive as a car manufacturer, Mullaly and his subordinates as well as the Ford Family need to take the high-road instead of the trashy business practice of hustling on every dirty corners to make a buck. The “Sync” system is not so important as to warrant sacrificing positive public opinion about Ford Corporation.

Rod Brown

September 13, 2009 10:29 AM

I had a customer in just the other week who ended up needed a whole new front end for her car. I asked her what happened and she told me her daughter did it? Then she went on further to tell me that she had been texting her mom at the time she crashed to her that she was going to be a little late or something. Her daughter was a little banged up but overall she was ok. Would be kinda of hard to punish her for that!

Stop by and visit


September 21, 2009 10:44 AM

Yes you can say we don't need to ban "doing X" things. But texting while driving is much more common than all those things you have listed Ryan. Thousands of people do it every minute which can lead up to an astronomical number of accidents. We should have a ban on texting/talking on phones while driving... and find a very good way to enforce it.

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