Ford backs banning hand-held calls while driving

Posted by David Gomez

Ford Motor Co. is not a big fan of using your hands to make a cellphone call while driving.

According to The Detroit News, Ford is publicly supporting a recommended federal ban on hand-held cellphone calls. So far they are the only automaker who cares enough about the issue to get involved.
    
The automobile manufacturer said on Monday that it endorses a bill introduced last month by U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y.
    
Ford's vice president of government affairs, Pete Lawson, said that the corporation is backing the proposed law "because it represents a practical, commonsense approach to a national problem."
    
Perhaps Ford is positioning itself for a government assisted sales boost with its hands-free technologies like Sync and MyFord Touch?
    
Currently, nine states and the District of Colombia have made the use of hand-held cellphones by drivers illegal.
    
Last week the Governors Highway Safety Association told the states that have no ban on hand-held calls to hold off on taking action until more research is completed.
    
It is possible that Ford’s involvement is due to concerns that lawmakers might want to get involved with regulating the automobile technologies that allow drivers to make hands-free cellphone calls. Supporting a political crusader’s bill is a way to take regulatory attention away from their hands-free products.
    
"Research conducted in labs and on roads shows that activity drawing drivers' eyes away from the road — whether text messaging, manually dialing a cellphone or reading maps — substantially increases the risk of an accident or near misses," Lawson said.
    
"Ford believes hands-free, voice-activated technology significantly reduces that risk by allowing drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road," Lawson said.
    
The telecommunications giant Verizon has also publicly supported the bill.
    
McCarthy said "Ford is demonstrating great leadership and being a good corporate citizen" by supporting her legislation.

"GM has been way out in front for years, among our employees, states and consumers, with a simple message of put the phone down and drive," said General Motors spokesman Greg Martin.

"We're still doing our part, but we're not certain what meaningful effect a federal ban would have at this time as these issues typically reside with state and local enforcement," he said.
    
GM does not allow employees who drive company cars to use a hand-held cellphone while driving.
    
The language of the proposed bill says that states that decline to follow the federal mandate within two years might lose 25 percent of their federal highway money. In theory most states would have no other choice but to comply with the law once taking away money is put on the table.