Good Decisions Behind the Wheel

To us, driver safety is not just about making safe vehicles. We also support safer behavior on the roads through a range of driver assist and semi-autonomous technologies, and an increased focus on reducing driver distraction and impairment.

Keeping Safe From A to B

Staying Switched On

Numerous studies have consistently shown that the visual-manual distraction of drivers is a big problem, which is why we continue to stress the importance of keeping your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. Findings from these studies have informed the development of some driver assist technologies designed to reduce the risk of a crash, such as Forward Collision Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking and lane-keeping systems.

Our latest systems, being introduced in select vehicle programs and in certain markets, include:

Cameras that scan for pedestrians already in, or about to step into, the road ahead (even at night)

Steering support to help drivers take emergency action if a collision is imminent

Wrong-way alerts should a driver attempt to head toward oncoming traffic

See how our Pedestrian Detection system anticipates the movement of pedestrians and reduces the risk of collisions.

Drivers can also stay connected and entertained, as well as safe, using the Ford SYNC® System. Our latest version, SYNC 3, has a new touchscreen featuring pinch-and-swipe gestures found on smartphones and tablets, and the capability to connect to Apple and Android phones. As well as enabling drivers to make and take calls, hear incoming texts and control music players hands-free using voice commands, Ford SYNC® features Emergency Assist, which can automatically send essential information to the emergency services in the event of an accident.

Driven to Distraction

Ford continues to invest a significant amount of time and resources researching driver distraction. Through partnerships with universities and multi-stakeholder organizations, we have been focusing on analyzing data from large-scale naturalistic driving studies, which offer the best glimpse into customer behavior, by recording what people actually do in their own vehicles while driving.

For example, we are currently working in collaboration with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) and Chalmers University to assess the real-world crash risks associated with the secondary tasks people often engage in while driving.

The Big Distractions

  • Texting

  • Reaching for moving objects

  • Looking at a paper map

  • Reading

  • Applying makeup

  • Dialing/calling handheld phone

  • Handling CDs

Source: Estimating Crash Risk, Dingus et al., 2011

Watch the videos, highlighting the dangers of driver distraction and driver impairment, that Ford Italy developed for World Emoji Day.

Paving the Way to a Connected and Autonomous Future

Today’s driver assist and semi-autonomous technologies are the building blocks of even safer roads tomorrow.

While a connected and autonomous future offers the prospect of new and more sustainable ways to move, perhaps more importantly, it holds huge potential for safer travel by road.

Our research programs with public, private and academic entities are looking at ways for autonomous and connected vehicles to communicate with one another, and with the road infrastructure, to help avoid collisions and reduce congestion. In the United States, for example, we are co-leading a group of automakers, working with the U.S. Department of Transportation, to help develop vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication systems. And in Shanghai, one of the world’s busiest cities, we’ve begun testing vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-everything features, to help drivers negotiate busy street crossings.

We know, of course, that progress relies on more than technology alone. To pave the way to a safer future, collaborative decisions on how to introduce and regulate autonomous vehicles are also essential.

Could AVs Communicate Like Human Drivers?

Conventions we take for granted when driving, such as the “after-you” gesture or the “thank-you” wave, won’t apply when it comes to automated vehicles (AVs).

With this in mind, we’re leading global discussions within the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) about how AVs might communicate with pedestrians and other road users in traditional vehicles.

A workshop, held in Gothenburg, Sweden, saw ISO delegates joined by experts from universities, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and regulatory bodies to discuss whether a guidance document for the implementation of external communications should be developed before AVs are mass produced.

The main goal of the workshop was to determine if we could agree to develop global guidance on AV external communications. The motivation for developing this guidance would be to avoid pedestrian confusion about AV intent, and possibly help with societal acceptance of automated vehicles. The workshop was very successful and the group agreed to develop a document on this topic.”

John Shutko,ISO Sub-Committee Chair – Road Vehicle/Ergonomics and Technical Specialist, Human Factors, Ford Motor Company

More on this topic in the report

Read about our efforts to make safer vehicles and encourage safer driving: