This was more or less bound to happen, given all the high-profile awareness campaigns about distracted driving and teens being the riskiest group of drivers engaging in talking on cell phones and texting behind the wheel. Ford is modifying the MyKey “Do Not Disturb” function to give parents the ability to block all incoming texts and calls while their teens are driving.
2012 Ford Explorer-Ginger Ale
New parental control launches on 2012 Ford Explorer
While the “Do Not Disturb” feature is already present on 2011 Ford vehicles equipped with SYNC and MyFord Touch, the automaker will add the parental blocking ability to inbound texts and calls to teens’ phones beginning with the 2012 Ford Explorer early next year.
How the blocking feature works
The operation of the new feature is relatively seamless. When hooked up to SYNC, this new feature blocks incoming calls and text messages from a Bluetooth-paired mobile phone and diverts calls to voicemail and saves texts on the device for the teen driver to view later.
Teens can still make voice-activated outgoing calls, and the SYNC 911 Assist feature can make calls in the case of an emergency.
To see how the new technology works, check out the video below.
Potential teen backlash?
How will teens react to the new parental control over incoming texts and calls? Well, it has to be better from the teens’ perspective than their parents demanding that they turn off the phone. Teens are also pretty savvy about the issue of distracted driving, given the amount of air time and news coverage in the past year. Furthermore, research studies prove that distracted driving caused by preoccupation with texting and calls is particularly risky for young, inexperienced drivers.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) advised that teens are more likely than other drivers to take risks such as speeding, which is a contributing factor in 30 percent of motor vehicle crashes resulting in fatalities.
Other studies have shown that teens do not yet possess the skills required to be able to control the vehicle they’re driving in assessing driving situations, potential threats and hazards, even navigating during inclement weather. Adding in the distraction of texting and taking calls and that risk is just compounded.
Our take is that there’s no doubt that some teens may feel that their freedom has been a bit curtailed, but parents can and should use this as an opportunity to talk about the importance of keeping their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel while driving. No phone call or text is worth even a second or two of distracted attention. Driving isn’t a right. It’s a privilege.