A View from Erika Jonietz

Ford's Dashboard Internet

A new way for drivers to access the Internet that, the automaker says, is safe.

  • January 8, 2010

Ford announced its new MyFord system at CES yesterday. The driver-control system, based largely on Ford’s Sync system, offers even more voice commands. But MyFord also introduces an 8-inch touch-screen in the car’s dashboard for accessing the internet.

While Ford endorsed a proposed federal ban on texting while driving last year, its new system is said to allow drivers to interact with even more Internet-based systems, such as Twitter, Pandora, and Stitcher–although only through a voice interface. Still, multiple studies, including two from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, show that drivers are four times more likely to have an accident if they are talking on the phone–hands-free or not–while driving.

Ford, like other car makers, is trying to balance on the fine line between consumer demand and auto safety. It’s a tough one to negotiate, but insurers are starting to come down on the side of fewer distractions of any sort. Nationwide Insurance offers drivers a 5 percent discount for using technology that blocks them from using a cell phone while the car is in motion, and State Farm, the largest insurance company in the United States, is studying the technology.

As a driver, I can clearly see both sides of the argument: it’s convenient and tempting to talk or text (or use GPS) while driving–especially when stuck in traffic. But I know that I am more distracted when I do. Personally, I can’t wait for cars that drive themselves, so I can do whatever I want in the car, whether I’m driving or not. But I’m not holding my breath.

Tech Obsessive?
Become an Insider to get the story behind the story — and before anyone else.

Subscribe today

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Basic.
  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly magazine delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.