Technology: Ways to Reduce Driver Distractions

parentingages and stages

As we all know, driving is a skill that requires your full attention to safely control your vehicle and respond to events happening on the road and environment around you. Driving involves constant coordination between your mind and body. However, as a driver, there are three types of distractions:

  • Eyes off the road (visual)
  • Mind off the road (cognitive)
  • Hands off the steering wheel (manual)

Teenage girl driving a car

When you think of driving distractions, what comes to mind? Managing antsy and "Are we there yet?" children? Receiving text messages and phone calls? Turning the radio station? When you think about the actions and decisions you make in your vehicle, other than just driving, you can see that they often involve more than one type of distraction.

Now, throw a teenager behind the wheel with minimized experience on the road and you can only imagine how the number of distractions will exponentially increase. Thankfully, there are companies who are well aware of this and they are putting forth a great effort to help reduce driving distractions. Take, for example, Ford Motor Company. With Ford's SYNC Technology, it helps you (and your teenagers) keep hands on the wheel and eyes on the road all while keeping you (and your teen) connected.

Ford Sync Technology Infographic

Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to visit Ford's facilities in Dearborn, Michigan and was introduced to all of the future trends. During their #GoFurther with Ford Trend Conference, their talented, inspirational, and educational speakers and presenters touched on topics such as urbanization, design, eco-psychology, and ways to streamline and symplify. I found all of the presentations to be extremely enlightening. However, I really connected with the technology discussion since the biggest item covered was the democratization of technology.

Why did this spark my interest? Ride with me in a car and the first thing you'll notice is that I'm a stickler for keeping hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. Simply put, I have no patience for people who are talking and texting on the phone. Thankfully, with Ford's new and improved technology, they have introduced ways to lessen driving distractions which I found to be extremely refreshing and forward-thinking.

Ford's Democratization of Technology

Distracted driving is an important issue for everyone on the road today. According to a 100-car study conducted by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, driver inattention that may involve looking away from the road for more than a few seconds is a factor in nearly 80 percent of accidents. For more stats, please be sure to visit this document.

The following technological devices help to make you (and your team driver) safe behind the wheel thanks to Ford, as outlined here:

Hands Free Calling:

Simply press the “Push to Talk” button on the steering wheel and then say the name of the person you wish to call. SYNC automatically will connect with the names in the mobile phone’s contact list.

Audible Text Messages:

When paired to a capable Bluetooth-enabled phone, SYNC will convert text messages from your phone to audio and read them out loud. You can choose to reply from any of 20 predefined responses.

Voice Activated Music:

SYNC’s advanced voice recognition technology means when you are ready to use your phone or digital music player, just speak simple voice commands. Browse the music collection on your digital media player, mobile phone or USB drive by genre, album, artist, and song title using simple voice commands, such as “Play Genre Rock,” “Play,” or “Play Track.”


As part of a comprehensive approach to teen safety, Ford has introduced an innovative technology — called MyKey® — designed to help parents encourage their teenagers to drive safer and more fuel efficiently, and increase safety belt usage. MyKey allows owners to program a key that can limit the vehicle’s top speed to 80 mph with special chimes sounded at 45, 55, and 65 mph. MyKey also limits audio volume to less than half of the maximum, encourages safety belt usage, and provides earlier low-fuel warnings. Also, if the MyKey driver and/or front passenger do not buckle their safety belts, then the MyKey persistent Belt-Minder® will display a warning and mute the audio system.

Girl putting on a seatbelt

Ways to Reduce Driver Distractions

So, what if you don't have a car with all these features? Don't worry. There are ways to help reduce driver distractions for you and your new driver(s).

  • Resist the urge to eat while driving.
  • Set your radio preset buttons prior to driving so that you can find your favorite stations/music faster and easier.
  • Place your cell phone out of reach before you start the car so that you are not tempted to answer calls or send text messages.
  • Buckle up your kids properly and provide them with books and toys to keep them entertained.
  • Keep the number of passengers in your car to a minimum.
  • Familiarize yourself with where you're going before you start driving.
  • Make sure you are well rested before you get behind the wheel.
  • Refrain from driving when you are mad or upset.
What are your safety tips for driving? How do you make sure that your driving distractions are reduced while behind the wheel?

Disclaimer: Ford sponsored my trip, including airfare and hotel accommodations. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Photos courtesy of Ford.

Jen Tilley has an insatiable appetite for all things related to baking and cooking. She is the author, photographer and recipe developer on How To: Simplify, a blog that shares tips, tricks and recipes to simplify life in the kitchen. She enjoys sharing recipes that require very few ingredients and only a small amount of prep and cook time, all of which make time spent in the kitchen simple and enjoyable. Find her online at How To: Simplify@HowToSimplify, and Jen Tilley Photography.

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