Drivers receptive to electronic help behind the wheel

Ford survey identifies drivers' concerns that can be addressed by technology

Published: August 31, 2012, 8:00 AM

2013 Ford Fusion Driver-Assist Technologies

Even the most attentive of drivers can’t see everything around them at all times or anticipate every hazard on the road.

While most respondents to a recent survey commissioned by Ford in the U.S considered themselves to be "careful drivers," most also admitted they'd welcome some extra electronic help when they’re behind the wheel.

According to the study, nearly 50% confessed to falling asleep while driving or knowing someone who had. Almost 60% blamed blind spots for accidents or near collisions. And close to 40% admitted a fear of parallel parking.

Three-quarters admitted to eating or drinking behind the wheel and more than half have exceeded the speed limit or used a hand-held mobile phone. (Probably way more than half if they were honest! – Ed.)

Not surprisingly then, almost 90% expressed an interested in alert and assist technologies to help them cope with those concerns.

Ford says early orders for the 2013 Fusion confirm that interest as they include higher-than-expected demand for such technologies offered in that vehicle.

The Ford survey was conducted by the market research firm, Penn Schoen Berland. "We found the drivers we talked to were definitely inclined toward features that provided real practical benefits by alerting them to potentially hazardous situations they may have missed," said Billy Mann, managing director of Penn Schoen Berland.

Assistance features that increase awareness ranked high among their priorities, Berland revealed, and many would welcome more than just an alert.

Two-thirds of the respondents indicated they would be interested in systems that can help them see around other vehicles while backing out of a parking space and detect other vehicles that might be in a blind spot over their shoulders.

Eight in 10 of the surveyed drivers expressed interest in a system that could provide an alert or even help to keep the vehicle in the lane.

And nearly nine out of 10 expressed interest in technology that could assist in slowing their car if it determines there is a potential collision ahead.

"As consumers have become accustomed to using electronic assistants in other aspects of life, they are increasingly recognizing how technology can help them cope with the stresses of driving," says Amy Marentic, Ford Group Marketing manager.

Ford touts the fact that its all-new 2013 Fusion offers an array of features to address these concerns, and more.

They include:

- Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with cross-traffic alert

- Adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning with brake support

- Lane-Keeping System with Driver Alert System

- Active park assist

- Rear-view camera system

- Ford SYNC

Ford says the Fusion is the only car in the mid-size segment to offer all these features.

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